DEAR OLD TRAINER: I have a 2-year old Huskie-Beagle mix named Jesse. I love her, but she is really difficult to train. I have followed the advice in your column and we have made some progress. At times she follows orders, then she will just totally ignore me. What should I do?
SUN VALLEY, IDAHO
A: Keep trying, Lenore. Tolstoy said, "The two most powerful warriors are patience and time."
You say, "we have made some progress," and "at times she follows orders." That means Jesse is learning and can be trained.
Training is a process, not an event, and Huskies and Beagles are difficult to train. Good breeds, but independent by nature. Take the long view. Think of what you want her to know a year from now and formulate a training schedule.
Start with sit. Every time Jesse acts up -- every time -- make her sit. That command will be the foundation of all further training. When you start your training session, put her on the leash and pick up a newspaper so she knows it is class time.
Hold two or three sessions a day but keep them short. Once she has "sit" down, tell her "stay," meaning continue to sit until I call you. Hold your hand up like a traffic cop and take a step back. If she stays for even two seconds she knows the trick. Pet her and love on her every time she does it right, and slowly work on getting her to stay longer while you move further away.
At that point it's easy to add "come." When she has held "stay" for several seconds, motion her toward you and say "come." When she comes to you, make sure you brag on her and tell her how proud you are.
Begin each training session with this series of commands. It builds her confidence and teaches her that training is fun. Be relentless. When you give an order in a training session, she has to do it.
Employ Tolstoy's two warriors, have fun, add in plenty of love and Jesse will impress you.
DEAR OLD TRAINER: Your columns about flea medications opened my eyes. I am now careful about what I put on my Lab, Koko. I heard that Wal-Mart is advertising a product like Frontline, but at a much cheaper price. Do you know about this product?
-- ALLISON, MERCED
A: This is what I have learned so far, Allison:
1. Frontline's patent expired. This is a generic with ingredients identical to Frontline.
2. According to message boards on various dog sites, there have been some problems, but comments seem to be generally favorable.
3. It is made in India. I distrust their regulations, so I won't use it.
4. The difference in price amounts to a little over $2 a month.
Remember that flea products are not medicine, they are insecticides. They are governed by the EPA, not the FDA.
The ingredients are toxic. Some dogs tolerate them, some do not. If you use any of these products keep an eye on your dog after application.
Send questions for The Old Trainer to theoldtrainer711 @yahoo.com.