Puppy Raising Tips
Any time you are introducing your puppy to something new and potentially frightening or threatening, be close beside your puppy rather than at the end of the lead. Remember that ordinary things we perceive as no big deal may elicit a fearful reaction from your puppy. You need to be there to massage and settle if your puppy shows signs of discomfort, rather than six feet behind it.
OUTINGS ARE FOR THE PUPPY
While we encourage raisers to take their puppies places for exposure to new settings, you need to be sure that you have time for the pup when you take it someplace. Do not expect a younger pup to fit into your time schedule. Running errands may not be the best time to take your pup out unless you have the time to stop and let it explore that unexpected thing that frightened it in a place where it was fine the day before. With younger puppies, we strongly suggest that you only take the puppy out when you have the time and the freedom to focus on a training and exposure session that can be given at the puppy's pace.
SIGNS OF STRESS TO WATCH FOR
This week's tip is aimed at helping you understand how important it is to watch your puppy closely and learn to "read" his/her signals. When you're on an outing, you need more than two eyes! You need to be watching the environment around you for any potential problems to avoid, and you also need to be reading your puppy's signals.
Stress in dogs can be hard to detect, but they do give us signals if we are watching carefully. When you are out with your pup, you need to attend to your puppy's actions, reactions and expressions very, very closely. If you observe any of the following in quantity, get your puppy out of the situation and/or pick it up and/or massage:
1) dandruff on black dogs' coats--the more dandruff, the more stressed he may be
2) yawning--in dogs, yawning does not signal "tiredness." It's a sign of stress and should be taken seriously
3) panting--this may not be thirst, but stress
4) whining--many puppies go through phases where they whine, but if it is out of character, it probably is stress
5) trying to hide--a stressed or frightened pup may try to hide behind your legs or under your chair. This is an extreme reaction. Pick up your
puppy or get it out of the scary setting.
6)bolting to the end of the lead, jumping around in a "manic" manner--may be exhibiting fear
7)ears back, tail tucked, crouching, trying to pull head out of collar and get away from the frightening experience--unsure, frightened
8)yelping or barking--yelping definitely indicates either fear or pain. Barking may be excitement but can be misread, and is instead fear and
9)diarrhea--often is stress-induced in puppies of all ages.
If your pup has had a stressful experience, don't continue with the outing or activity. Take it somewhere quieter and familiar, if possible, and play or let it rest.
LOOSE LEAD, DON'T DRAG
Guiding Eyes pups should be on a loose lead any time you are working with them. It's very easy (and very common) to get into the habit of pulling your puppy along or letting the puppy pull you. Memorize the 4 little words above and force yourself to stop anytime the lead between you and your pup is taut. Take the time to do a tune-in and praise, praise, praise. This will produce a puppy who knows two things: 1) when you call its name and it comes to you, you are happy! And 2) pulling is unacceptable and will slow down forward progress. You must give the puppy the freedom to make the decision to come/sit/stay on a loose lead.
The PATIENCE Approach
Patience is the most important quality you will need in raising a GEB puppy. Raisers who rush their pups into behaviors and situations they aren't ready for will end up with a pup who doesn't tune in and who may be nervous or intimidated by new places. Here's what “patience” stands for in GEB-speak:
P is for plenty of time to get used to new things. Sitting and watching from a distance is perfectly appropriate for a puppy's first exposures.
A is for always praise. Always!
T is for time to massage. You should be massaging, especially handling paws, ears and mouth every day.
I is for independence. Let your puppy explore at his/her pace, not yours.
E is for exposures. Take your puppy back to the same place over and over again until s/he's confident.
N is for not going too fast. If you're taking time to tune your pup in, you aren't going to get very far on a walk, and that's fine.
C is for Correct handling technique. Be sure you're doing things right by watching videos, asking your AC, and looking at your puppy manual.
E is for enjoy your outings. If they're stressful for you because you have a misbehaving pup, return to a less stressful setting and work on your tune-in and correction techniques until you can control him/her.
Puppies bark for attention. Young puppies often bark, whine, yowl or yelp when placed in their kennels. Never let a hollering puppy out of the kennel. Wait until s/he's been quiet at least 5 seconds and “catch him/her being good.” Praise the quiet behavior like crazy and ignore the noisemaking completely. If you react negatively in any way, the puppy is getting what s/he wants: your attention. The same goes for barking at feeding time or during play. Never reward the behavior. Wait to feed until the pup settles and quiets. Stop playing immediately and walk away if barking occurs as a demand to play. Praise and initiate a game when the puppy is quiet.
Puppies are like crawling babies—into everything! Get down on your hands and knees and inspect your home from the puppy's point-of-view. Remove or block dangerous electrical cords and anything else that could harm the pup. Also remove or protect anything the puppy might chew on that you value. Also, if you have areas of your home that are problematic to puppy-proof, consider blocking them off for the few months it takes to instill manners in your puppy. (Example: consider moving your work area to your kitchen instead of bringing the puppy into your office, consider setting the cat food and litter up high where puppy can't get into it.) As your pup grows, you can once again open up more areas of the home and give him the freedom he has earned.
To jolly your pup means to speak to it in a happy tone of voice. This is particularly helpful with a slow, fearful or very easygoing puppy who wants to lag or hide behind you. Jollying also is used when introducing something new so that the puppy is enthusiastic about investigating. If you have a very energetic or excitable pup, be careful not to overstimulate it with too much jollying. It is important for lively pups to learn to work calmly. P.S.—“Jolly” does not necessarily mean high or loud!
THE UMBILICAL CORD TECHNIQUE
Puppies go through stages as they grow, much like young children, when you absolutely cannot take your eyes off them because they are always into something they shouldn't be. Rather than chasing your puppy around the house trying futilely to stay one step ahead, tether your puppy to you by attaching one end of her leash through a belt-loop or around your waist. If you need to sit and work or do homework, gather some appropriate toys so the puppy can play near you. If you are moving around the house working, the puppy can come with you, but can't get into trouble because she can't get too far away. This technique is very helpful for integrating the puppy into your daily routines. It also produces a puppy who eventually will want to be where you are in the house and will follow you happily. Be sure to offer lots of praise for playing with the right toys and staying with you. One caution: your pup needs opportunities to explore and learn what is and is not appropriate around the house, so be sure to give her some off-lead time when you are able to devote yourself to watching her.