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Irish Wolfhounds respond happily to basic obedience, as they love to please their humans and enjoy one-to-one attention.
All dogs should be taught good manners and this is particularly important when your cute puppy will weigh more than you when fully grown! Many vets run puppy parties for pups who have had their first vaccinations; these are usually run by a vet nurse and are an informal opportunity to ask questions and let your pup socialise with others in a safe environment.
Next step is to find a good local training class; the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (apdt.co.uk), lists trainers by area, with details of disciplines covered (obedience/agility/Good Citizen testing etc). All their members use kind, reward based training methods with no check chains allowed. Any trainers not employing these methods should be avoided, not least because wolfhound pups respond best to kindness and can be upset by harsh methods. Classes should be fun for dogs and handlers and for a laugh and a chat, or to discuss problems. Some also offer heelwork to music, games, socialising time, coffee and even Christmas parties “ a chance to put the skills taught into team games, musical statues, fastest recall competitions and even to collect a doggy treat from Santa Claws (yes, honestly)! We were narrowly beaten by a Sheltie who did a 'drop-recall' on the £5 note (our boy was just off it)! Clubs should be happy for you to go along and observe, to check if you're happy with their methods.
Many clubs now follow the Kennel Club Good Citizen Scheme (details on www.thekennelclub.org.uk Click on Activities and follow links to Good Citizen). This has been expanded and there's now a 12 week Puppy Foundation Course, offering the basics of teaching pups to sit, lie down, feel comfortable being handled and groomed etc. The main scheme offers Bronze, Silver and Gold levels, which must be taken in order, Bronze being very basic and Gold obviously offering more of a challenge. Each has set tests for dogs with handlers plus questions for handlers and all sections must be completed successfully to pass. It's satisfying to have something to work towards and thrilling when you and your dog are presented with your award at the end of a successful test.
Of course, teaching your wolfhound puppy starts as soon as you bring him/her home. Many owners don't realise it's a legal requirement for your dog to wear a properly-fitted collar when in public with a tag bearing your surname, address and telephone number. Failure to comply could incur a £1000 fine! Get your wolfhound puppy used to wearing a softweave collar in the house and start attaching a lead for short periods“ you'll soon have a pup walking beautifully to heel!(HOWEVER, never leave your wolfhound with a collar on when you have to leave him alone or in the company of other dogs without supervision. It is very easy for the collar to become hooked on door handles or get caught in the jaws of a companion when playing, with disastrous consequences).
Give your pup a gentle groom with a soft brush every day and check mouth, feet, ears. If you teach your pup to roll over for a tummy tickle, your vet with be eternally grateful (unless you're prepared to lift your 80kg boy onto the examination table!) Use food treats to reward success, either taking a portion from pup's daily food allowance, or using tiny bits of liver cake or healthy treats. Use only for training practice; you don't want a fat puppy, or one with an upset tum. Keep practice sessions very short, just a few minutes at first, as wolfhound puppies get tired and must be allowed to sleep. Don't be afraid to sit out in class if you feel your pup has had enough.
Above all, enjoy the quality time with your wolfhound puppy and the lovely walks you can both have with your new doggy friends.
(Our thanks to Chris Broughton for this article and photos)