If you plan to do Field Work with your
pup, you might find this article helpful
The Three "S"s Of Puppy
Training: SHORT SIMPLE SUCCESSFUL
by Jackie Mertens
Acquire your pup at or around seven weeks of age. He needs
to interact with his littermates until then, but should be separated from
them by eight weeks of age. As soon as you get your pup, start teaching
him "how to learn." A seven week old pup is very capable of learning.
From seven to 16 weeks of age pups learn 'how to learn.' It is a very important
time frame in the life of your pup. Use it wisely. Remember, puppies cannot
learn anything locked in a crate or left in a dog run. Your pup should
become a part of your family and your life.
Early puppy training should be done in small doses with bits of food as
rewards-I like to use pieces of cheese (kibble takes them too long to chew)
or Puperoni (available at most supermarkets). Hold a small piece of treat
over his head and say sit. When he finally accidentally plops his butt
down, say good and give him the reward. This can be done about 10 times
in a row or until pup acts bored or distracted. Actually try to always
stop a lesson before the pup gets bored. If you do this two or three times
a day, your pup will know the word "sit" in a couple of days.
At this point it is situational training. This means that the pup knows
"sit" in this setting but does not really know the word thoroughly,
such as if he were outside and you did not hold a reward over his head.
Teach "down" using the same principle. With pup in the sitting
position, bring your hand to the floor in front of pup and say "down."
He will quickly learn to lie down to get at the tidbit in your hand-praise
and release his food reward. It is good for your pup to know the "down"
command in order to later lie down quietly in a holding blind or duck blind.
I like to have our pups wear soft leather or nylon collars on their necks
soon after they are separated from the litter. After a few days of scratching
the collar, they adjust to having it on their neck. At this point snap
a lightweight lead on the collar. Let the pup guide you at first. Do not
drag or tug at his neck. Eventually try to guide the pup or coax him into
following you with praise, tidbits and rewards. After several days, the
pup should be readily walking on lead. Encourage him with praise and food
to stay close to your side. Keep his attention.
Take your pup off leash for walks in the woods or park. This will introduce
him to various cover changes, footing, smells and sights. Have him wade
through puddles, navigate ditches and negotiate stairs. This also teaches
him to follow you. Since he is in a strange place, he is likely to want
to stay close to the only thing that he is familiar with-you. This helps
bonding and establishes you as the leader. Sometimes, when your pup gets
distracted, hide on him or change your position. When he discovers that
you are gone, he will probably get a little worried and start whining or
looking for something familiar. Now call and coax him to you and pet and
praise him-this can help establish yourself as the leader and the puppy
as the follower. You have become his leader and protector.
Play "See Saw" or "Post Office" with
your pup. This is a game where two people call the pup back and forth between
each other and praise him upon arrival. You hold the pup and point pup
toward the other person who stoops about 10 feet away and calls the pup.
After pup comes to other person and is given a treat and praised, that
person points the pup back to you, and you call him and praise upon his
arrival into your arms. Do this 5 or 6 times. The two people can move a
step or two further each time, but if pup fails to respond correctly, move
closer together again.
Have your pup fetch rolled-up socks or small puppy bumpers (paint rollers
make ideal puppy bumpers - lightweight, soft and easy to pick up). Once
your pup likes to retrieve, start hand tossing him "bumpers' and coax
him to you. Kneel to his level, clap, praise and move away from him if
he hesitates to come. Most young pups will come when they think you are
leaving them. If you have an independent pup, you might start his retrieves
by using a hallway of your house with the doors closed. This will limit
his options. You can reward him with a treat for coming; but he may decide
to drop the bumper and run in without it for his treat. Don't worry if
this happens; at least he is obeying the "come" or "here"
command. If he does not come, you may want to spend a few days on the"come"
or "here"command by doing "See Saw" (see above), using
the treats as a reward before going back to retrieving.
Enroll in a local puppy class. This gets your pup out into the community
where he can learn to interact with distractions and other dogs. Go visit
several classes if you have a choice-there are good and bad puppy trainers.
Choose the class and instructor you feel most comfortable with. These classes
are often called KPT-(Kindergarten Puppy Training).
If it is warm (water temperature over 55 degrees), pups can swim at an
early age. The easiest way is to wade into the water and coax your pup
in with you. *Important,* do not toss or drag the pup in-let him enter
on his own. If he won't go in, wait and try again in a couple of days.
Maybe try playing with him and other dogs in and around the water. He will
eventually swim; be patient. He may be 10 or 12 weeks old before he decides
to venture in; don't worry, and don't force the issue. An unpleasant experience
around the water could have lasting effects, so be sensible and go slow.
If you have the mother dog, one of the easiest ways to
get puppies to enter water is for the mother dog to wade in, the pups will
most likely follow suit.
When your pup is retrieving your hand tossed objects (3 to 4 months of
age), introduce a thrower to him. Use white or contrasting colored objects
that he will see on cut grass or flooring if you are indoors. Have the
thrower stand 10 or 15 feet away and yell 'hup hup' to get the pup's attention
and toss the object. Release pup as soon as he wants to go. Only do three
or four retrieves at a time, then put your pup away. Do this once each
day or every other day. Note: we do not have puppies retrieve birds until
they have been force broken. We "force break" pups at 5 to 8
months of age. Your Thrower can help your pup return to you if he runs
in with the pup and encourages it to follow his in toward yourself.
Instead of trying to stretch the distance your pup goes on his retrieves,
keep them short so as not to tire him. Only gradually make the retrieves
more complicated. Have a little change of cover, run across a mowed path,
angle a safe ditch or cross a large puddle of water (that he won't run
around!). Be innovative-put chairs out that he has to run past. Also try
having a person stand short of another person who throws, so he runs past
the first person on route to the object.
Try to get pup to run at the object and not at the thrower. Note-If he
is running at the thrower, then the thrower is too far away from where
you are running your pup. Make the distance between you and the thrower
shorter and lengthen the actual distance of the throw, so pup runs at the
object and not the thrower.
At some point, a pistol shot can replace the "hup hup." It is
not that important how you get the pup's attention, but you don't want
to startle him with the noise of a gun. Our pups hear guns as soon as they
go training with us. They are in our vehicles while we are training the
big dogs; so they hear the guns in the distance from seven weeks of age.
If you don't have other dogs that you are working, introduce gunshots at
a distance, so as not to startle your pup.
When dealing with your pup remember the three "S"s - SHORT, SIMPLE
Detailed information on:
Hints on Caring For Your Pup
Evaluating Dogs for Field Work - Hints on
Evaluating your Dog For Field Work
Puppy reservation expert
email: Linda Waco
PH (815) 363-7547
Puppy Support Person
All Right Reserved
copyright 1996 © TOPBRASS RETRIEVERS
Web design & management by Right