Dog trains man

Thursday, September 26, 2013

What Every First-time Hovawart Owner Should Know: Training and Exercise

This is a series of blogs about "What Every First-time Hovawart Owner Should Know", in which each subject is selected - and contributed to - by Hovawart owners.

Training and exercise

Dog training and exercise are god's gift to Hovawart owners.

Without it, things tend to explode in your face. But when you train and exercise, you are set up for success.

Hovawarts love to learn new things, but repetition bores them. Like when you are trying your 3rd "fetch it" in a row in the same training session. They will probably start to think it makes no sense doing things over and over again, and find something with more variation to do.

That doesn't make them easy to train if you are the competing type. The goal is not always 1st place though, and your reward is more measured in furthering your understanding of your Hovie, and becoming a team, then anything else.

With the Hovawart you can only use training methods based on positive reinforcement. If training is based on punishment, they will block. They have the ability to think and act independently, and will turn away from you. Punishment doesn't belong in a relationship based on mutual respect.

For them it is all about working with you, not for you:
Ruth T.: "Do not do a training exercise many times in a row. Make it fun and change the way you ask the dog to do what you want. Otherwise they will get bored."
Jana R.: "I'd say: exercise, exercise, exercise."
Anna N.: "They need a lot of traing both with the "head" and much exercise. The hovie is a excellent tracking dog and obedience dog, it takes a lot of nice rewards and a very patient owner to train high obedience, but i think they really like it!"
Jan W.: "I would also add here how important exercise is. It certainly is for one of mine - I think she would explode in all the wrong ways if she were unable to run free and expend all her energy."
Björn S.: "You will learn that positive training is the thing to do, otherwise you will get ignored."
Loes K.: "They are very smart dogs and if they don't see the point of doing the same exercise over and over again, then they will find something else to do. Which more often than not result in my boy being silly and me shaking my head with a smile."
Mary A.: "Hovawarts are a very active, sporty breed and needs lots of exercise every day, rain or shine. They also need mental stimulation such as training in tracking, obedience, or various dog sports."

Their playful nature is your best allied in training. Hovawarts remain playful also on an older age. I have seen a Hovawart refuse a treat, but never a fun tug game, hide and seek, or a squeaking toy. Once you get the hang of it there are no limits. You can teach them anything and even compete with them in obedience trials on a high level.

They are good at almost any type of training. Obedience, agility, tracking, nose work, IPO, search & rescue, etc. Just pick what seems fun to you. When they see you are having fun, they will surely follow.

I can't recommend hunting dog training though. They are just not retrievers.

They seem to excel at anything that has to do with the nose. Having an excellent scenting capability and doing their own decision-making, is probably what makes them so well-fit for this type of training. And additional benefit for us is that all that sniffing and decoding of scents, makes them so, so tired.


Coming up next: Socialisation with Dogs!

A big thanks to Africa, Jan Wolfe, Evelyn B., Peggy S., Yvonne B., Anna N., Katja K., Sascha L., Björn S., Loes K., Flora B., Verena S., Heini A., Dave H., Maria E., Judith L., Lone A., Mary A., Hester O., Ine C., Min I., Silvia I., for your contributions in selecting and contributing to the subjects.


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