Re: Raising the Working puppy
Let's see what I can remember from three years ago... These are just my methods though, all pups are different and will need their own "instruction manual". I have to credit the breeder with giving me the basics of most of these. She knows her pups, and this stuff worked for me.
Figure out your house rules. Pick one or two of the most important rules for your pup to comply with. Those are the pup's rules. When the pup goes to the training field in a few months, that is the work area, that is where all the rules are, the pup needs a place to relax and be a dog... that is what home is for. Lana really doesn't have any house rules, she's a pretty good girl. I do expect her to stop barking out the window when I tell her, same with fence barking, but otherwise she is a good girl all on her own. The reason behind this is that you want your pup to be outgoing, inquisitive, curious, adventurous... all that stuff. You don't want to squash the drive with a bunch of rules and stuff. Have fun with your pup.
I had the pup wear the leash everywhere, even in the house for the first month or so. I only took it off when the pup went in the crate and was unsupervised. This was to get the pup used to having a leash, so it kinda became part of the pup and she ignored it after a while. I cut the loop off of a lightweight nylon leash and let her drag it around. It had the added bonus of leaving a six foot long red line pointing to wherever the pup decided to hide! LOL Have fun with your pup.
Lots of tug games. Let the pup win a lot, but only when the pup has a full bite. Let the pup have a chance to re-bite in the beginning and even help them get a full bite. Get down on pup's level and really get into it. Have the pup crawl up and over you laying on the floor and stuff. It builds up confidence. Have fun with your pup.
Scent boxes for foundation training in tracking... stomp down a square about 1 1/2 to 2 times as big as the pup is long. Put food everywhere inside the box, even right on the edge, bot ONLY where the grass is stopmed down. This teaches the pup that good things are found where the grass is broken and nothing is found where its not. I see you have snow, but this is an important item on the checklist so you might want to find a way to make it work even now. I don't know if you could clear an area of snow and let it age for a few hours before you make your puppy squares... overnight would be even better. Make it a fun game for the puppy. take the pup away from the square while there is still a piece or two of food left, before they get bored with it. when the pup has his nose on the ground tell him "good such" (sounds like sook). If he goes out of the box, praise him when he goes back in. Have fun with your pup.
No obedience for a few months. Let the pup be a pup, have fun with the pup, be crazy with the pup! Teach the pup that you are it's world and that all the fun happens with and because of you. For a while you might want to control the really interesting toys. Have something out for the pup to chew on, etc... but the ones that REALLY excite the pup and get him going are the ones you want to be brought out by you, played with in your presence and engaging with you, and put away when playtime is over. That helps the pup learn that you are the source of everything fun and good. Have fun with your pup.
You CAN work on imprinting things like sit and down, but don't make them formal obedience for a while. I know it's so cute to have a pup that knows obedience, but let him be a pup, don't squash the drive. Have treats readily accessible at all times. That way when the pup sits on his own you can tell him good sitz and give a treat. When pup lays down on his own you can say good platz and reward. You can even lead them into it a bit by holding the treat just over their head and maving it toward the tail end a bit to get the sit. Again, tell him good sitz and reward. From the sitz or from standing you can get the platz by holding the treat next to the floor between the pup's feet and pushing back under, good platz and reward. What you are doing is associating an action with a sound (word) for a while. The pup doesn't know what it means, so you can't tell him sit, but you can give the action a name and tell him good job. Have fun with your pup
Lots and lots of patience. A pup is going to do what a pup is going to do. If you give the pup lots of attention, redirect bad behaviors to good ones (ie: redirect chewing on a shoe to chewing on a nylabone, etc), and keep that pup tired out you will have less issues. Have fun with your pup.
New experiences. I was once told that the danger from an unsocialized dog is much much greater than the danger from catching a disease. Take your pup places. Get him used to the car. Go to the pet store. You can put the pup in a cart at first, but get him out and about. Take him to the park and put him up on park benches and picnic tables (stay close of course). Have him play in the sand, climb on big rocks (make sure they are stable first), etc. The entire life of the dog will be a learning experience. Just the other day I was coming out of a new store with Lana and ran across a storm grate in the parking lot. She wanted to walk around it, so I coaxed her onto it, let her check it out, and had her stand on it for a bit. Now she plods right across it with no problems. Take your time, have patience, always be ready to identify and take advantage of learning situations, and have fun with your pup.
Finally, have fun with your pup. If you are going to train this pup to be a working dog, the foundation and relationship you form with him now will determine how the two of you will work together in the future. Build the pup's trust and confidence in you through games and challenging situations. Have fun with your pup.
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