Author Archives: Sydney

Victorious Vet Visits

Veterinarian listening to puppy's heartbeat

The veterinarian we choose should be considered a ‘partner’ in care. We’re responsible for making sure that clinic staff can safely handle our dog without risk of being bitten. It’s up to us to ensure our dog is comfortable at the vet and can tolerate routine check-ups.

The stress surrounding a waiting room can be reduced by some simple work. A robust socialisation and handling strategy is key with a puppy. This should start with the breeder or foster family and carry on with you. Doing this gives your dog a sizable life-long advantage.

Be sure that you have plenty of delicious treats for your puppy when visiting the clinic. You puppy should be getting treats throughout the visit. Starting when you enter the clinic. Then carry on during the exam. On the table and once off the table. Try tossing some treats onto the scale for fun. You want a dog that is happy to climb on for weigh-in time.

Non-Treatment Social Visits

To prevent negative associations with the vet be sure and get into the clinic for strictly social visits with your puppy.  Non treatment visits will help when done a handful of times as your dog matures. Let your dog receive treats from the reception staff. Play a quick game of tug and then off you go. Keep it short and fun.

Fear-Free Vet Visit is an excellent initiative that was created by Doctor Marty Becker.  For some tips on fear free vet visits you can watch this short video by Doctor Becker.

Thank you to Dr. Paul McCutcheon and his staff of East York Animal Clinic & Holistic Centre in allowing us to photograph Fen’s vet clinic visit. Dr. McCutcheon was operating a Fear-Free clinic long before it became popular to do so.

Game Plan to Go!

Everyone is saying it. Shelter staff, breeders, veterinarians and trainers are all throwing the word Socialization at you. But what does that mean beyond going down to the local Starbucks with your new puppy? Once you’ve had a chance for a bit of fun showing off with your friends, it’s time to think a bit more about what your puppy needs.

What all dogs need is a robust socialization game plan.

There’s nothing wrong with heading out the door and ad libbing. There are oodles of opportunities to socialize right outside. But what tends to happen is you leave the house forgetting a key piece of equipment that can undermine your success. Or worse, you keep repeating the same encounters. Constant repetition is only good if you plan to live in a bubble with your dog. That is unlikely. The whole point of a socialization plan is to experience a wide range of encounters. This will get your puppy ready for all the situations he may come across during his life.  A dog who is comfortable with a variety of circumstances is likely to be happier. He will be less stressed by the unknown and easier to train. This dog will be a better companion. Its worth the effort, so let’s add some sophistication to your game plan.

We’ve created a handy worksheet that will help you create a plan for each of your outings. Click this link field_trip_worksheet for the PDF.

 

sample of a puppy field trip worksheet

The Field Trip Worksheet is designed to work with the training pointers provided by ultimatepuppy.com. Be sure to print out the Social Schedule and use it as a guide. Your goal is to cover a wide variety of encounters. We would encourage you to focus on the highlighted section of the Worksheet where you should keep notes of your pup’s reactions to new situations.

Reminder

What to do if your puppy is uncomfortable or frightened (trying to run away, tail tucked, or attempts to bite): Jolly him up with a silly voice, a treat, or a game. If a situation is overwhelming your puppy, back away until the puppy is relaxed again. Start from this new distance to build up your pup’s confidence. Gradually get closer to the stimuli. Your ultimate goal is for your puppy to be comfortable and confident around stimuli that was previously scary to him.

This is when keeping notes is helpful, it allows you to focus on weak areas the next time you go out.

Good luck and have fun!

Decoding Your Puppy Raising Priorities

a girl and her puppy with a thought cloud above their heads

 

Congratulations on your new puppy! This little critter is soaking up his environment and everything you have on offer to teach.

Are you set with a good game plan for these coming early weeks? Have you done your homework? Are you prepared with your lessons and a good puppy coach? Do you have all the equipment and supplies you are going to need?

This new addition comes with a whole set of his own priorities and interests. Are you ready to provide this pup with all that he needs to live a well-adjusted, healthy life?

How do you wade through the piles of information available and all the well-meaning advice from everyone you know and some you don’t? When it comes to what you should be doing with your new puppy it can seem like everyone has an opinion.

Let’s break it down to some prioritizing based on a puppy’s development. This helps put things in perspective and can get you rolling with what is crucial right now.

The first 14 weeks

What happens or does not happen during the first 14 weeks of a dog’s life will have a profound impact on his entire life. What you do with your puppy during this time will determine his ability to navigate a life tightly knit with us humans and our weird and wacky ways.

A dog might be called man’s best friend but a dog’s wants and needs frequently cause havoc in households where they aren’t understood or provided for!

The first 3 1/2 months of a pup’s life are when a robust socialization and prevention strategy must be planned and executed. After this time has passed, you are playing catch up. This is not to say that great work cannot be done with a dog after this time, but it is to say that a critical period of development has passed and you will never get it back. You cannot afford to miss out on it, your dog certainly cannot!

A dog’s ability to easily acclimate with his environment stops at about 14 weeks. If he perceives things as threatening, because of a lack of early exposure, the fight or flight response kicks in. Any way you look at it there is stress involved, stress can lead to illness too.

The pup is most malleable now for us to affect his ability to peacefully live closely with us humans. He will need to get used to being alone sometimes. He will need to be able to go to the vet and be handled and to get along and be comfortable with us around his food and toys. If he doesn’t learn how to do this now we may have big problems later on with guarding and biting and stress when left alone at home.

Top priorities

With our understanding of this critical period of puppy development we know that socialization, which for our purposes means a positive encounter and or exposure to a wide variety of people, other animals, sounds, surfaces and situations and; prevention, a game plan that includes specific exercises to help prevent known, predictable, dog behaviors from becoming problematic are our top priorities. This is some seriously time sensitive business that needs your immediate attention. No waiting until the puppy is 4 months old. By then the ship has sailed!

We recommend that you ask anyone who you are potentially getting a puppy from what type of early work they will be doing with the puppy before you bring him home? If you are bringing a new pup home between 8 and 10 weeks that leaves a whole lot of precious early development days in the hands of the pup’s birthplace folks.

What are they doing to help prepare this puppy for life? If your new puppy has had early socialization and preventative work started at his birthplace he now has a sizable advantage over a puppy that has not. Now here we are and you are bringing your pup home at maybe 8 to 10 weeks of age. That only leaves you 4 to 6 weeks to get this all-important education in. It is show time!

Socialization

Print out a copy of the Ultimate Puppy Social Schedule and get to it! Get out and introduce the pup to as many new things as you can. Each new person that your puppy meets should be giving him a tiny, tasty treat. You can drive, take a boat, take the bus or carry your puppy. Take treats and water and toys. Keep the outings to a reasonable length of time. Short fun trips are best. It is not enough to simply go around the block. You have got to get out and go looking for novel stimuli.

Other dogs

Please avoid dog parks and other heavily dog-populated spots. Friendly, healthy, well socialized dogs that you know are fine for your puppy to meet and perhaps play with. Puppy socialization playgroups are the best place for your new pup to have playtime with other pups. These play times are short and monitored, the area is clean and safe and you will learn lots about dog play and body posture. If you are lucky you will work on some recall out of dog play too.

Prevention

Simple, quick, fun run-throughs that help prevent serious problem behaviors, what’s not to love!

These exercises range from basic handling of the puppy using treats, to teaching the pup to easily hop off the couch or move away from the front door or kitchen counter. They also include teaching the pup that there is no reason to stress over you leaving the house, it is just part of the flow of the day. You will also teach your puppy that he never needs to guard his precious resources like the bowl or toy or bone, if you do take it, it will always comes back better!

When a dog guards what he deems important or is not comfortable at the vets or growls at you because you ask him to move over on the couch he is not being bad or unreasonable in his dog mind, these are predictable dog behaviors. Certainly this does not make for a peaceful existence with his humans and it could lead to rehoming or worse euthanasia. This is why preventative exercises are essential with a puppy. Simple yet potentially life saving.

Getting it done!

So now you know! Socialization and prevention are your top priorities with your new puppy. This is because they are very time sensitive and will make all the difference in the quality of life your puppy will have. Puppy socialization classes are readily available and are the absolute best way to learn all about these important lessons. Puppy socialization classes are made available for pups that are under the age 16 weeks. We hope this helps you, whether in preparation for a new pup or in the early weeks of bringing a new puppy home. Enjoy this early time with your new pup and teach him everything he needs to be able to enjoy his life with you.

Barking Basics

 

Bark Basics: how to teach puppies to be calm in crate (and stop nuisance barking)

Puppies bark. The problem isn’t that they bark, the issues arise from how we deal with the barking.

Thankfully more breeders are starting to do some great early work with their pups. This means that the first time the puppy is separated from his mom and littermates isn’t when you bring him home. This means that the first time the puppy goes into a crate isn’t when you introduce him to one. If your new pup is experiencing all these things for the first time know that this is stressful. You may experience different degrees of whining, crying and barking. How you handle it is what counts.

 

The Game Plan

The early crating and structure that you provide for your new puppy as well as prepping him for alone time go hand in hand with helping to prevent problem barking. Other priorities for the puppy include age-appropriate physical and mental exercise, playtime, socialization trips and lots of preventative exercises. It is advantageous to you and the puppy to get into a well-run puppy socialization class and gain the guidance and support of a great coach.

 

Puppy crate training, puppy structure and boundaries, building a desire in puppy to go into crate - all in aid of stopping the barking in puppies

Crate Training Tip

Make the crate a happy place for your new puppy. Build up his desire to want to go into the crate. Hide a trail of delicious treats that leads to the crate and inside the crate place a super high-value prize such as a raw knucklebone or a kong stuffed with steak and cheese. Place this prize just inside the door and don’t let the puppy get to it. Build up a little frustration in your pup by preventing him from getting to the prize. Let him in for just a few seconds then bring him out and close the door again. Repeat this game a few times. Toss delicious treats into the back of the crate, repeat as pup comes out – treats for going in, no treats for coming out. As you toss the treat in, use the phrase, go in or in your crate.

Request Barking

Request barking may start with a puppy barking because he wants out of the crate or to go outside. New starry-eyed puppy parents don’t know what they are getting themselves into. A common but unfortunate scenario you want to avoid is thinking, ‘My puppy is so smart, he is already telling me when he wants to go outside!’ Tread very carefully here! Turn this around; you should be the one who decides when your puppy is going out for bathroom breaks and for playtime. Get to him before he starts barking and provide plenty of opportunity for him to get out of the crate and engage in training, play, cuddles or bathroom breaks. Avoid taking your pup out of the crate if he is barking. If you must let him out try and get at least 30 seconds of quiet first.

Request barking is just that, the puppy is barking at you because he wants something. He wants to go out, he wants to play, he wants you to give him attention, or he wants food. And on it goes, once it starts it will spread to lots of different requests and it can drive new puppy parents crazy. 

Structure At Home

Frequently puppies that bark in their crates are not crated when their people are at home and awake. Too much freedom is given and when folks try and crate the puppy he complains about this new plan by barking. Hey, who likes change! A puppy should be calm and comfortable in their crate for different stretches of time while you are at home and awake going about your regular routine. You need to be the one to teach your puppy this. Always serve up safe and tasty chew things for your pup to enjoy in his crate.

If the puppy is out of his crate, you should be attending to him or he should be anchored somewhere safe and be provided with something appropriate to chew on. Avoid letting your puppy wander unattended around the house. Structure and boundaries now are going to help condition a dog that is calm and trustworthy in the house later. Short cuts make for long journeys.

Alone Time

A lot of the undesirable barking from new puppies is stress or frustration from being left alone or from being crated or sequestered in another part of the house from you or from family activity.

Most dogs will have to spend time alone. It’s our job to prepare our pups to be able to deal with our absences. If you teach your puppy from day one that this is no big deal you should have smooth sailing over the course of his life.

Avoid big goodbyes and emotional hellos when coming and going from your house. Play it cool! This helps to keep your puppy calm.

* Your puppy should always get a delicious kong when you leave (or other safe food stuffing toy) filled with fabulous food that he is interesting in eating and works to get at. Stockpile some and pop one in the crate just before you leave the house.

Your dog’s vocalizing shouldn’t be an annoying aspect of life. A fun part of raising a puppy is learning the different nuances of their voice. Some dogs use their voices when they are happy and playful. Some dogs have a distinct distress call when they must get outside for bathroom quickly. Other dogs are very vocal about their contentment as they get a good tummy rub. Most of us will learn when to speak and when we probably are better off being quiet. Our dogs are no exception. We need to teach them this important life skill.

* Stuffing kongs and other food stuffing toys might take a little time to master but it is well worth the effort. It takes some patience and experimenting to find out what your puppy loves to chew on. You need to stuff the toy just right, not so hard that the pup gives up and not so easy that it comes out in 30 seconds. Be sure and keep your food stuffing toys clean and in good condition. Check out kongcompany.com for some great recipes.

Just wait ’til I grow up

A thoughtful connection between you and your puppy will take time to cultivate and will require patience and consistency. Set an intention to create such a relationship, its worth should not be underestimated.

You want to create a connection so that your dog is interested in you! As with anything worthwhile, when you put in the time and energy necessary you will reap the rewards. You must be steadfast and true in your efforts to teach your puppy you are someone he can trust and count on and that you are someone worth paying attention to.

I have high hopes for you and your puppy as you go hippity hopping through life, as you walk down the sidewalk, wind through the woods, meander along a path or over a hill and onto the banks of a babbling brook. I want you to experience a reliable behavior from your dog, one that you will come to count on. A quick glance in your direction might seem insignificant to the untrained eye, this is not so. This behavior is far-reaching and valuable in so many ways.

Let’s talk about three simple moves you can work on with your puppy to start to cultivate this bond. They are fun, and you can practice anytime, anywhere. As with everything you teach your new puppy, start in quiet areas with less distractions and work towards busier environments. Introducing, Pause, Yoo-hoo and Play just remember, P.Y.P. or plucky young puppy!

Pause

One component of a healthy mindfulness practice for us humans is to stop and pause throughout our day. Before we go into a meeting, after a workout or before or after a commute from one place to the next. Simply pause and pay attention to our breath and how we are feeling. This same pause may be useful while playing and training with our pups.

In her book On Talking Terms With Dogs: Calming Signals, Turid Rugaas talks about different subtle behaviors dogs use to defuse stressful situations. Some of these behaviors are slight pauses. We may or may not be aware of all these subtle moves our dogs are showing us but it sure is worth learning more about and watching for.

We can add our own version of Pause as we play and work with our pups. When we move from one environment to another, as we leave the house and head out to the yard or the street or when we switch from one exercise to the next. Pause, let your puppy acclimate to his new surroundings, let him have a look around, maybe a little sniff. Wait for him to check in with you and reinforce amply for that. Once he has had a moment, a chance to get his bearings, start whatever it is you are going to do together. You can make pause part of your training strategy wherever you go and whatever you are working on.

 

This is what taking a Pause looks like when you are training a puppy

Pause, a break and time to get a look around

 

Yoo-hoo

We have all seen the dogs that have no idea who is on the other end of their leash. Dogs with their nose to the ground sniffing furiously, dogs leaning hard into their collar or harness, dodging this way and that, sometimes to the point where the person hanging onto the leash might be in danger of falling. It is up to you to teach your puppy that you are someone worth checking in with, paying attention to and taking their cues from and that it is beneficial for them to do this. Translation, good things happen when he tunes into you. Try giving your pup 5 to 10 tiny pieces of high value food for him looking at you. Tiny-tiny but tasty-tasty! Cheese, chicken or hotdog are nice tasty choices of high-value food you might work with. Remember not just one treat here, but 5 to 10 tiny pieces in rapid succession!  The name of the game is to teach your pup to check in with you. Making it worthwhile to your dog when he looks at you is going to increase your chances of staying connected.

 

The puppy is looking up at the young woman, this is what checking in look like

Yoo-hoo, Shelby checking in

 

Woman gives puppy treats for check in with her

Yoo-hoo, Shelby getting rewarded for checking in

 

Play

You will see the benefits of adding Play to your training strategy. Play adds a level of sophistication to your game! Always keep a toy on you. A long soft tug-type toy with a squeaky works great. A puppy can chase this, or play Tug with it, or you can use the squeak to get his attention.

Practice breaking up your sessions with a quick game of Chase and catch up, at which point the puppy can play a game of Tug. Be silly and enticing, experiment with toys and games and learn which ones your puppy loves best. Use these super-hero moves to keep that puppy having fun, and on his toes and engaged.  Be unpredictable. Maybe you are relaxing on the floor together when all of a sudden you are magically producing a new toy and a great game of chase. Super-hero!

 

Woman calls Yoo-Hoo puppy, come over here!

Syd and Shelby play a quick game of Chase!

 

What kind of dog will you raise?

A confident, curious puppy who is interested in the world around him but who is also interested in checking in with you and paying attention to what you are doing is a beautiful thing. Aim for this connection. Incorporate these moves into your everyday routine with your puppy. Try and look at your day-to-day life with your new puppy like every moment is an opportunity to teach and educate him. This might seem like a tall order but with a good training strategy, some understanding of how dogs learn and what makes them tick you are off to a good start. Remember your Plucky Young Puppy won’t be young forever, just wait ’til they grow up!