What’s in your treat pouch?
What! No treat pouch??!!
This is an essential tool for the job you have on your plate.
Okay good! You’ve got your treat pouch. Nice work!
Now let’s load it up.
Soft, yummy treats so the puppy doesn’t get distracted with too much crunch. Smelly is always good too.
Have a minimum of 4 different types of treats in there including ‘high value’ for those more challenging moments.
What you have in your treat pouch will depend on what your puppy loves. Some experimenting and getting to know your pup’s preferences should naturally occur.
The treat pouch is not just for when you are out. Have it on whenever and wherever you are with your puppy.
Now you’re reinforcement ready.
Life isn’t choreographed; think how boring that would be. Instead life is often unpredictable, random and sometimes hard and messy. This is part of what makes our lives rich and thrilling.
Let’s prepare our puppies for the variety of situations they will encounter. This will require training in different environments.
Are you are going to expect your puppy to be polite when the doorbell rings or when friends come over? When you are out and about, in the city or the county? When you are in the car or on the bus or out in your boat?
Each setting offers unique situations and challenges. Look forward and imagine all of the situations and places you are going to expect your dog to perform. Where will you want him to be relaxed and pay attention to you and listen? Nail the basics at home and then branch out and take it all on the road.
There is no distinction in your puppy’s mind between when you’re training and when you’re not. Your puppy is learning and developing habits with or without your input. This is why it is so important to make every moment count.
This need not be unwelcome news. It doesn’t mean that everything must be rigid and structured. On the contrary! There must always be plenty of fun and games. A seamless flow occurs when you become aware of the unique opportunity each particular moment offers in regards to your puppy’s education.
There will be obvious lessons and sometimes the not so obvious. I remember when my 8-week-old border collie Earl plunged down a few feet off a bank into a lake. Horrified I ran to rescue him only to find him happily paddling along. I laughed at my relief and was amazed at the speed he adapted to the water and how well he swam. As the saying goes, sink or swim.
Strive to always be prepared with treats and toys for teaching and reinforcing new behaviours. Pay attention and distract and redirect your puppy from unwanted behaviours. Refocus them on what’s appropriate. Set your puppy up to succeed. Be an advocate for their successes. Keep them safe.
Young pups are sponges soaking up everything. Be a well-educated, dedicated partner in your puppy’s early education.