Number 1 – How do puppies like to move into social interaction? To me, this is different than how does a puppy socially interact, it’s about engagement, not dissimilar to how we might initially meet people. Some people when they meet might hug you or not, they may offer their hand to shake, some are kissers and some have a personal bubble that all of the above might be considered to cross all manner of boundaries. I find puppies the same. I often observe puppies doing all manner of things when attempting to navigate the intricacies of social interaction. Some might move away and take their time to survey the social setting. Others might move in boldly and offer a required play bow to kick off the social invitation. A butt sniff or a stealthy rear end sniff of another puppy may occur or the ‘bull in the china shop’, racing in and blind siding their prospective participants. But why is it imperative that you learn your puppies preferences for engaging in social interaction? Let’s say your puppy takes it’s time to move into social interaction, then pairing your puppy with say a bull in a china shop is not a good social pairing, to do so means we are already putting our puppy on the path to an unsuccessful interaction. Selecting players of a similar style is critical in this early social learning period and a vital contributing factor in setting up for social success. Behaviour is ‘dynamic’, meaning that it is constantly changing and there are numerous factors that influence what is occurring at that time, on that day and in that specific environment. Understanding that changes of environment can create different responses just the same as different players can create a different play dynamic is important for us to learn. Again if we think about humans as an example, you might be more comfortable or confident in an intimate social setting as opposed to a large, loud setting which might make you feel more reserved or shy, so take the time to find out the various changes that might occur for your puppy when you change the environment. Here is a comment that we get almost weekly from our puppy owners that relates to environment, ’but my puppy is boisterous, confident and out going at home’ but they get that same puppy at puppy school and their…Read More
Riva earnt her angel wings on Saturday and I’m heart broken, i’m guttered, I’m beyond words and consumed by big ugly tears. Amongst the tears of loss, Riva is still managing to teach me a lesson. In fact, I think it’s one of the most pivotal lessons of my life and it has nothing to do with being a dog trainer and everything to do with being human! What is it? It’s a bit raw but Riva is helping me to deal with trauma and be in a space of processing grief for the very first time in my life. You see, I’m a ‘bottler’ – I store up all my past grief, challenges and trauma and you can probably guess where that landed me! But this morning I began to think about how she could be teaching me from beyond the bridge and the answer is pretty simple. It’s about the journey of discovery it’s about connection, bond, co-existence and understanding. Riva wasn’t and still isn’t just a dog, she’s a family member, she was a compliment to my life every single day of her existence. Riva was a comedian, a total ‘Diva’ and had to be in the centre of everything or risk being in FOMO land and she is high maintenance, can’t you just visual her in a human form right now……lol. My point is, there are dog owners and there are ‘dog owners’. A ‘dog owner’ is one that understands a dog is an extension or expansion of the family. The one who loves to have the dog snuggle up on the bed in the morning just like their kids did when they where younger. This dog owner takes time to learn the nuances of this new family member, it’s preferences – what it likes what it doesn’t like and not just fob it off as fussy, uncooperative, stubborn or worse ‘broken’. This ‘dog owner’ will be heavily engrossed in a movie and at the cliff hanger your dog will get up, stretch (Yoga style, down ward dog) and walk to the door to be let out because is wants to sniff a blade of grass and you probably grumble a bit (I know I do, because I swear to god, Riva did this every time) but every time I got up and let her out, stood out in the freezing cold and waited for…Read More
Who wants a confident puppy? We all want a confident puppy but they simply don’t grow on trees, we need to help them, and expose them to things that they may encounter during their life in the human world. How can we do this, where should we do this? and most importantly how do we make it safe for them? At Primo Puppy School we run a session that concentrates on exactly that, confidence building and we get to view what the puppies will not only ‘do’, but what they won’t do when presented with something new to them. We’ve constructed what we call ‘confidence cubes’ with everyday human items for puppies to explore and move through, we want them to see, smell and experience these unusual things. We want the items to touch their head, face, body and tail and see how our puppies behave and adjust our approach accordingly if a puppy shows us they are concerned. You to can and should do things like this at home everyday to help your puppy become confident and well adjusted to life daily experiences. A simple tarpaulin is a great idea, it is a different surface, it makes noise under paw, you can change it’s appearance by bunching it up and you can fold it over. When working with a puppy on new and novel items I will always start with something around the same size as my puppy, avoid using something that is likely to tip over, a sudden movement can concern some puppies and we absolutely was to set them up to succeed. Start by placing treats about 5-10cm around and on top of the object. Allow your puppy to choose to investigate the item and if your puppy advances towards it verbally praise ‘well done’ ‘good dog’ or whatever praise you choose for your puppy. This is something that you can do every day and make it something different each time and really assist your puppy to learn that new things within it’s own everyday environment are perfectly fine. Other suggestions might be a chair turned upside down, delivery boxes to the house are cool as they might smell different but you garden shed and garage are likely to be a buffet of novel items and ideas to preset to you puppy. Should you do this and your puppy not engage or run away, act fearfully then…Read More
Zander & Ellie, (we call them ‘the odd couple’ with the greatest of affection). Zander with his long legs and the exuberance of a 4.5 yr old and Ellie, an 8 year old Labradoodle came in for a K9 Fitness & Proprioception session. Now usually we only do this 1 dog at a time, but there where some circumstances around why we had both in at once.
Ellie, although technically a senior is very food motivated and this motivation for food can sometimes interfere negatively in our sessions.Read More