Category Archives: Mindfulness Musings

Patience

a puppy laying on his belly in the sun with the shadow on a fence on him.

A New Year

As we come to the end of this year and look forward to… WAIT! (cue sound of screeching breaks). Let’s pause for a moment and consider the last sentence, specifically the words ‘look forward’.

Merriam Webster’s definition of the word patience is “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.” 

We will assume since you are here and reading this that you have a puppy, are about to get a puppy or that you are into dogs and dog behavior. I want to talk about the importance of patience in relation to puppy raising.

The ability to be patient might be the single most important part of raising and training a new dog.

Tempo of The Dog

We live in the times of “I want it yesterday” this mentality will not only undermine your puppy raising efforts but may also damage trust in the relationship. It simply will not do when it comes to raising a pup. They don’t move to the same beat.

Our hope for you is that you not LOOK FORWARD with your puppy but rather stay here in the now with him. This after all is where your pup is.

Enjoy all the joys and be patient with the challenges of this path. There will be plenty. From dealing with bathroom training to biting and nipping. Strive to understand the creature before you with all their differences. Their needs and wants. Their fears and joys and their heart’s desire. You can bet it is much different from yours.

The thought of a hot bath may be your idea of fun but your pup’s is more about rolling all over a dead fish.

Thank You!

We thank you for being a part of Ultimate Puppy. For taking the time to educate yourself, or help to educate others thoughtfully and compassionately.

Be patient with your puppy and with the ones you love.

Happy New Puppy (Year)

Warmly, Peg, Syd and the UP family.

a hand shadow of a dog

 

 

Make A Habit of It

A woman walks barefoot along the beach with a beagle puppy walking at her side, looking up at her

 

Your good habits are what will determine your new pup’s behavior.

Little things that you do on a regular basis can make a marked difference as the big picture unfolds.

pull quote that says: We often don’t see the benefit or the fallout from our choices until later.

We often don’t see the benefit or the fallout from our choices until later. If you handle your pup’s nails every Wednesday and Friday, trim them every Sunday, use high value food when you do, let him remain standing while doing it versus holding him, use a skid proof mat, a helper and have good lighting. Trimming your dog’s nails will not be a chore for you or your dog. There is something to be said for good habits!

 

Knowing that the habits we put in place ‘now’ will help ensure a happier stress free ‘later on’ is often not enough motivation. Lets look at some simple things you can do to set yourself up for success with these helpful habit-building tips.

Crate

We all want our pups to be calm and settled in the chosen area of confinement. Mine is usually a crate. This happens by consistently using it, ensuring the puppy is entertained when inside, and always working to build a positive association with it.

If you have a multi-storied house you could have crates in multiple spots. When I raise a pup I have crates on every floor. No matter where we are if the puppy needs a quick break, or I do, there is always one near by. This way I am setting myself up to succeed.

When I crate a puppy I always want to make sure they are going in with some tasty treats. Keep jars of treats on top of your crate of near by so that every time the pup goes in you have your treats handy to toss in ahead of him.

 

Train

When you do training sessions with your pup they should be short, fast and fun. pull quote: When you do training sessions with your pup they should be short, fast and fun.

Play some fun music while you do a training session with your pup (no headphones please). Make it something you love and something up beat, when the song is over the session is over. You got some training in, maybe a little dancing, you feel happy and your pup does too.

If you find that you end up not setting enough time aside to get to the practice part of training try doing the training right before something that you are consistently doing with you pup. For example, if you bring the pup on the couch to cuddle while you watch your favorite show. Before each cuddle session do a 3-minute training session.

Walk

We need to take treats out on walks and socialization expeditions. This is an absolute must. Forgetting treat bags at home shouldn’t be an option. No one ever wants to be caught out and about with out a poo bag so stash your poo bags in a front compartment of your treat bag. This way you won’t leave home without either.

Gear On pull quote: Hang your treat pouch with your leash or keep a jar of treats where you keep your gear.

I see a lot of pup’s gradually become stressed when having gear put on. They become uncomfortable with the sound or sight of their harness or collar.

Hang your treat pouch with your leash or keep a jar of treats where you keep your gear. This way you will see it when you are putting your pup’s gear on. Always pair the harness or collar going on with food. This helps prevent the pup from developing an unpleasant association with this process.

Build It And Practice

A way to help build good habits is to create an environment or a routine that causes you to think or act in a particular way. The behavior it prompts will make it easy for you to practice something helpful with your puppy. Hence you start to create ‘good training habits’. The by-product of this is a happy, well trained, stress free pup.

Use these techniques and think about what habits you want to build and how you can build them. We would love you to share your ‘happy pup, habit building tips’ with us.

 

puppies looking up at words that say “the secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine”

The Magic Lives In The Details 

A young jack russell puppy’s head has burst through the white paper on the left of the page. He is facing the camera. On the left is text which reads: Did you know that being present is a key component of good training?

Hello! Is Anyone Home?

We could take many lessons from dogs. How about the lesson on being present? They love it when you pay attention to them. Did you know this is a key component of good training?

The difference between a great training session and mediocre one is the attention to detail. Mental presence helps create a connection with your dog. The magic will start to happen once you and your dog maintain eye contact with each other during your sessions and you are both equally engaged in the process of working together. This is good stuff!

If you are taking the time to educate your dog you may just as well strive to make it the best education you can offer. Let’s look at what other components of training are worth understanding and paying attention to.

It Is The Journey Not The Destination

When you are teaching something new or polishing up an existing behavior it is important to stay focused on the process rather than the end result. This is not to say that a goal is not important but the reality is it will take some steps to achieve that goal. Stay focused on the steps. This makes for a great training session.

 

Same puppy ripping through the white paper on screen, This time the text say: Are your training sessions shot, fast paced and fun?

Reinforcement Lingo

A high rate of reinforcement means a lot of rewarded repetitions in a short period of time. This is one of the most valuable things you can strive to do while working with your pup.

I teach my students a game called the 1-Minute Sit Sprint. What it does is gives an accurate account of how many repetitions can be done within the span of one minute. Aim for 10 to 15 rewarded repetitions of sit within one minute. This is a high rate of reinforcement. It will help your dog stay in the game and learn faster. You can teach your pup how to sit playing this game or use it to sharpen his moves and yours too.

Set a timer for one minute, count out 15 soft, tiny treats that your dog loves. Put yourself on the clock. Ask your pup to sit, reinforce the sit with the treat, release , and repeat. This game gives you a clear goal and important information about your training skills. It is a great warm-up before a walk or training session. Playing this game regularly will improve your training skills as well as your pup’s sit and attention.

A strong history of reinforcement translated means your puppy has been rewarded many times for a particular behavior. This means the likelihood of your pup repeating that behavior is increased. Let’s look at the example of calling your puppy to come. If you call your puppy to come 20 times in a fun, fast paced training session (set a timer for three minutes, and each time pay large) and you do this a few times per day you are creating a history of reinforcement with the behavior associated with the word ‘come’.

Conversely if you use the word ‘come’ recklessly and don’t reinforce each time you call you are decreasing the probability your dog will always come when you call. Who wants a pup who won’t come-a-running when called? No one, that’s who!

Timing of your reinforcement is your ability to get the goods to your puppy at the right moment. This should be just a few seconds after the desired behavior. Don’t be slow and sloppy with your treat delivery. Have a treat pouch or your treats easily accessible on a near by table or shelf.

Om

Dogs are always paying close attention to our body language and movement. When you are not reinforcing/rewarding with treats keep your hands quiet in front of you at belly button, side of hips or chest.

Economy of words is a worthwhile effort. We are chatty ones. All this gabbing can get confusing and distracting for dogs. If we have to keep asking for a behavior such as sit or down the pup needs more training. No big deal, we all need to keep working at things. It is a fun game to try and communicate with a dog without speaking. Try just using your body or hand signals. Can you get your dog to follow you, sit or lie down without talking?

Let’s Get Busy

Don’t forget to proof the behavior around distractions and train in different environments. Train in the places and situations you want your pup to be able to perform the behaviors.

Keep your sessions short, fast paced and fun. For a young puppy one to three minute sessions are plenty.

The Origin of Puppy

Please keep your expectations and goals realistic. A new puppy is not going to behave the same as a well-trained adult dog. Focus on ‘puppy- friendly’  moves. Create a solid, thoughtfully constructed base to build on.

 

Dogs will be Dogs

woman running on dock with a lighthouse in the background. She is running towards viewer and has a dog on either side of her running along in a carefree manner.

I have a challenge for you. For one day I want you to observe your dog, play with your dog, and work with your dog without judgment!

I have a vivid childhood memory of being at my Grandparent’s place. We were celebrating a birthday for my younger sister in their beautiful back garden. My Sis and I were messing around as sisters will do and my Grandpa Johnny got impatient with us. What I remember so clearly about this was what my Mom said to her father, she gently chastised him and informed him that kids will be kids. I felt so good when she defended us from my stern Grandfather. It felt liberating and safe to be me!

I think the quality of any relationship can be enhanced with an absence of judgment. This is no easy task! We are constantly labeling and defining everything in our lives. Events and people are condensed down to good or bad. Things make us happy or make us sad. Maybe we are missing some of the richness of life when we view things this way.

We have a propensity to do this with our dogs too. Whether it is teaching a puppy the ways of the world, or working on more complex moves with a more mature dog.

New puppy parents frequently want more from their pup than what is realistic. Or get impatient when everyday behaviors, like come and loose leash walking take time to train to fluency.

I am not going to call any of this bad. That would be judging and today I am taking myself up on my own challenge : ). Today I am going to hang around with my dog and simply be with her and have fun. We will work on moves, some that I have been working on for months! We will play and walk. Sometimes she will pull me, sometimes she won’t. She will mostly always come running when I call. I hope that I contribute to her feeling good and safe and free to be her, I think I do.

If you feel inclined to take us up on this challenge maybe you will share some of your experience of that day with us here.

Take it up a Notch

family puppy

This is a motivation checklist to keep handy while raising your puppy. Check back often to determine whether or not you are staying on track.

UP’s Tips For Creating A Meaningful Relationship With Your Dog

• The desire to meet the needs of your dog.

• A quality education. If you don’t understand what your dog needs you can’t possibly provide it.

• Positive, motivational training backed with science, heart and mutual trust.

• A full treat pouch and a beloved dog toy.

• A sense of humor and patience, with your puppy and with yourself.

Realistic goals and expectations.

• Commitment and dedication to the process.

• Flexibility – be willing to change your game plan when your puppy or dog is faced with challenges and your approach isn’t working.