Category Archives: Mindfulness Musings

Food For Thought

What Goes With What?

If you have dinner parties and get excited about pairing wine with different courses you will appreciate this analogy. To my mind pairing treats with puppy life requires the same consideration.

From making a good impression when introducing your pup to the nail trimmers, to a smooth and effective training session, pay attention to the food you use.

And remember a ‘treat’ is not a treat unless it is a ‘treat’ in your pup’s eyes.

The Right Treat For The Job

I’ve said it before, all treats are not created equal. There should be different options available based on what the occasion calls for.

For example, a gooey or soft reinforcer won’t work in a food dispensing ball or snuffle mat. Sometimes a handful of kibble tossed in liver dust or the teeny tiniest speck of bacon fat is just what’s needed.

Other times we must up our game and go higher on the pay scale. Say we really want to pull out all the stops when it comes to introducing our puppy to his new crate. Why not cook up a little steak or chicken for the occasion.

I encourage you to experiment and get creative. Keep things interesting for your dog.

A Meal’s Worth

Use your dog’s daily food in training and play.

A great way to use your pup’s kibble comes from Susan Shelton’s (Austerlitz German Shepherd Dogs) blog post The Power of a Pacifier. I love this one. Use the kibble blended with some vegetable stock and cooked egg. Mash and stuff into a topple treat toy or a hoof.

Any regular meal portions can be used for training sessions, ‘toy stuffing’, or hand feeding.

Fast Food

If you are doing rapid fire training sessions with your puppy a softish, tiny treat works best. You want something easy for you to ‘dispense’ and easy for the pup to ingest.

A healthy baked dog biscuit is a good choice for a quick snack to toss on the mat when you want your dog to do a quick ‘settle for a spell’ or stick a few in a Holee Roller ball for some problem-solving enrichment fun.

An airtight jar of tiny dried treats such as kibble, dehydrated lung or dried liver provides ready to use reinforcers for recall or bathroom training. Stash by the back door or by your puppies’ bathroom location. You will never miss an opportunity to reinforce a recall or a bathroom training win.

A Case For Whole Food

We love good food and so do our dogs. When we need to up our game in the treat department this is a good category to explore. Experiment with whole fresh food for stuffing, training or snacking. The prized ‘high value’ nuggets that may be needed for certain training or management situations will fall into this category.

Unseasoned cooked chicken, beef or lamb, hard-boiled or scrambled eggs, toast with a titch of butter, cheese, apple, carrot or blueberries all serve as options for extra delicious treats. Stuff a toppl treat with plain goat yogurt and blueberries and freeze it. Scramble an egg with a titch of grated cheese for a fun morning training session. Tiny pieces of chopped up boiled chicken breast are great for playing some ‘in and out’ of the crate or any other fast, fun training sessions you want to use them for.

Romaine hearts or bits of apple or a green bean make a healthy, crispy chew for your pup. You don’t need to wait for a special occasion to lavish your dog with healthy delicious treats in life. They can be part of the everyday.

What’s On The Menu?

If your treat larder is uninspiring shake things up. Your pup will love it and you will have fun. Whether it is for training, playing, snuffling or snacking the treats they eat matter. Below are a couple of recipes that I love. The meatball recipe is a go-to for me and many of my students now make it for their puppies too.

I hope this inspires you. Buon appetitio to your perrito!

 

Monica Segal’s Sardine, Blueberry and Ginger Tea Frozen Treats Recipe

 

Caryn Lile’s Meatball Recipe

 

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3 cool things you don’t know about Ultimate Puppy

Has Your Puppy Taken Over Your Mornings?

A woman with a big cup of coffee is looking out the window.

How Will You Greet The Day?

Good Morning Sunshine!

Or is it?

A few extra minutes for yourself in the morning can make a big difference in how your day goes. If your morning routine with the new puppy is starting to get you down read on.

You Need Your Time and Your Puppy Needs His

If there are periods throughout the day where you feel overwhelmed with the new pup take the time to take stock of each particular situation. Make a plan and get organized so you can avoid the stress. Learning how to set yourself and your pup up for success is time well spent since it makes you feel better.

What Is It Time For?

Let’s look at some situations and define whose time it is.

After pup’s morning bathroom break crate him with a delicious chew or food stuffed toy, my favorite for this is the Toppl Treat toy by West Paw. Put a bit of the pup’s breakfast in along with some other type of higher value food.

Now you’ve created some time for yourself to have a coffee, stretch, check your email. Whatever it is you want to do when you first get up. 

Your puppy has had a bathroom break, some love and a stretch. Back in his crate for 15 or 20 mins while you wake up is not a problem. In fact you are doing right by the pup providing structure if you are not supervising. Bonus!

Meal and kid time are other examples of when you are focused on something other than your pup.

These times can be high energy or stressful already. The addition of a rambunctious puppy makes it a big old mess. This is family time and or meal time. Crate your pup with a ‘high value’ food stuffed toy or chew.

High value is a very important consideration. Your pup HAS to love what’s in his crate. If he doesn’t it’s up to you to experiment with food, toys and chews to find a combo that WORKs for this purpose.

Check out our Toytorial for inspiration.

Eye On The Prize

A puppy will demand your full attention and patience when you have him with you. Be prepared for this.

One of the most helpful things you can do is have a PLAN for the puppy when he is out of the crate.

Set specific times in the morning and throughout the day to spend FOCUSED on your puppy. Playing, training or romping. The key word here is focused. All your attention should be on him. Not half an eye. The half an eye approach spells disaster and this is where people get stressed and the pup can get frustrated or confused.

When you take that puppy out for a romp that’s HIS time. You should be prepared with food, toys and TIME for your pup.

Meander with him. Engage him. Have a plan for your outing. Check out our leash and long line training plan here.

Finding A Balance

Quality time for yourself and for your puppy is the goal. With a bit of practice and forethought you will find this balance. Happy puppy raising.

 


 

livestream banner for You’re Lucky You’re Cute. new puppy… what am i forgetting?

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.