Let the puppy Play!!!

If puppies have plenty of proper toys to play with, it is easy to teach them to ‘leave-it’ and ‘drop-it’ and tell them “all done” when it comes to the items we don’t want them chewing.

Puppies need to play. Like our human children, their job during development is PLAY!

Pax`e head in toy box

Don’t limit their toys.

Pax`e sits among the toys

Instead, expand their horizons because they need to explore and chew in order to learn what is and is not appropriate.

Because of this, we can use this play to teach them how to leave their toys, drop them, ignore them, and hopefully not guard them. And, we can prevent them finding toys like boots, shoes, socks, etc.

If they have plenty of proper toys to play with, it is easy to teach them to ‘leave-it’ and ‘drop-it’ and tell them “all done” when it comes to the items we don’t want them chewing.

Pax’e is a nine week old AussieDoodle. In teaching her to tug at my sock, she learns that commands can be fun. She learns socks are boring. And, while she may have wanted to tug with that sock instead of giving it up at first, the ‘drop-it’ command worked.

It’s never too early to start teaching, playing, having fun, and building your relationship with your pup.

Over the next several weeks/months Pax’e’s training exploits will be showcased. Sometimes with success and sometimes, maybe not.

Regardless of success, it will always be a learning process.

Little Carlito’s Need Brought Together Unlikely Collaborators.

Carlito is a lucky little dog, who shared his luck with the Tanglewood community by bringing them together for a common cause.

The story of “A Dog Named Boo, The Underdog with a Heart of Gold,” very simply put, is about a dog in need, who then turns around to help others. Little Carlito’s story is about a dog whose need brings together some unlikely collaborators – a superstar cellist, a world renowned conductor, a Berkshire’s valedictorian just starting college, and 13,924 concert goes.

I know Carlito and his humans, Mary and David, from the training classes I teach. When they said they’d be missing class to go up to Tanglewood, I thought it was for a holiday. Little did I know David is a highly esteemed conductor who first led the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood in 1968 (shows what I know).

When the four-month-old Havanese puppy ran in fear from a smoke alarm that went off in the house where Mary and David were staying, everyone feared the worst. How could the twelve-pound Carlito avoid cars, coyotes, or getting hopelessly lost in the woods of Tanglewood?

Enter Yo-Yo Ma — for years a good friend and mentee of David Zinman (human of Carlito).

According to ‘The Berkshire Eagle,’ When Yo-Yo Ma appeared on stage after his concert, it was not for an encore, instead the famed cellist sought the help of the Tanglewood audience of 13,924 to find Little Carlito.

Leaflets were printed and stuck under windshield wipers, motorists stopped anyone they saw running, walking, or sitting on a front porch telling everyone to be on the lookout for Carlito.

Grace Ellrodt (the valedictorian) was one of those joggers who was tipped off by a passing driver. Just before dusk, she spotted the little puppy in a busy intersection on Cliffwood Street near Triangle Park in Lenox and returned him to Mary and David Zinman.

Carlito is a lucky little dog, who shared his luck with the Tanglewood community by bringing them together for a common cause.

While this all happened last August, it seemed like the story of a little puppy who brought so many people from so many different walks of life together is just the kind of sentiment for this time of year as we look to turn ourselves over to new hopes and ask ourselves, ‘how can we make 2018 a little better?’

Ask Carlito.

 

 

 

The Three Colors of Goldens

Recently I was able to wrangle three Golden Retriever puppies to compare and contrast their differing colors.

3 Goldens 4

 

 

For some time, I have noticed Golden Retrievers are turning up in some very different colors.

Until now I have not had all three colors in the same class.

 

However, in a recent Basic class I was able to wrangle three Golden Retriever puppies to compare and contrast their differing colors.3 Goldens 2

Notice (from left to right) Tucker-the-Cream, Redgie-the-Red, and of course Willow-the-Golden.

My question is, in the future will we be looking at a true color split in this breed like we see with Labs? Will we be making similar designations for Goldens just like we do for Labs?3 Goldens 3

  • Chocolate Lab
  • Red Golden
  • Yellow (I prefer Vanilla) Lab
  • Cream Golden
  • Black Lab
  • Golden Golden

We will probably have to wait a decade or two before we know how this is going to turn out.

Three Goldens movie thumbnailBut in the meantime, here is some  three-colored Golden-puppy play.

 

Enjoy!

 

The Thieving Puppy, or How to Teach the Rules of Tug

Teaching your dog the rules of tug and setting up boundaries helps control their natural tugging behavior and gives you both what you want.

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Ask Professor Boo is our recurring, positive reinforcement dog training and behavior question and answer column. If there’s a question that you would like to ask Professor Boo, please feel free to contact him.

[dropcap]Q[/dropcap]: We’ve just got a new puppy and while he’s got all the rough-around-the-edges things that go along with being a puppy he does one thing that’s driving us crazy: everything becomes a game of tug. If he grabs a pillow off the couch – tug. If he grabs a towel in the bathroom – tug. If he grabs our pants – tug. How can we stop him?

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]: First things first: tug is an ingrained behavior but that doesn’t mean that you can’t shape and give it rules.

It is more fair – and makes for a much happier dog – to shape behaviors they love than try to “break” the dogs of them.

If we step back for a moment and think about tugging, just what is it that we’re looking at? In short, you’re seeing a social manifestation of millions of years of their evolution.

As canids evolved and their hunting techniques developed to allow the hunting of larger prey, they faced new issues: bigger prey requires a collective effort to take them down and how would the group divide up the results?

At some point – millions of years ago – by chance one of them grabbed one end of a kill and another one grabbed the other end and what started as a solution to communal hunting and eating back then we see today in dogs as “tug.”

That is why you can see tug begin to manifest in litters of puppies barely stable enough to walk: it’s in their genes.

Bringing this back home to your new pup and how to shape his tug addiction, here are what I like to call…

The Rules of Tug

  • Engage the game with a cue like “tug” or “take it”.
  • Use a toy large enough so that your hands will be clear of the dog’s mouth. I like to use only one or two designated tug toys because this reduces confusion and the dog’s desire to tug everything under the sun. It also focuses their tug energies on their Super Special Tug Toy – and for that I just love the Tennis Tug!
  • When the dog pulls or shakes side-to-side, relax your resistance or drop the toy completely. (You can continue the game this way if your back and arm joints are strong enough but – if you’re like me – stick with the straight-on tug).
  • When the dog pulls front-to-back or straight-on, keep your resistance on the toy and play the game.
  • If the dog’s teeth hit your hand or clothing at any point, drop the toy, fold your arms, and look or even walk away from the dog.
  • If the dog’s paws briefly land on you, you can choose to do the same look or walk away. If they are using you as a lever with the paws up against your body, drop the toy and look or walk away.
  • The dog will probably come back to you with the toy after something like this. When they do, ask for a sit and restart the game using the cue you’ve chosen.
  • If the dog begins tugging any article of clothing, disengage from the dog and give them a time-out from you and the game.

These are the rules I use for our own dogs at home, and with both consistency and patience in their application they do a fantastic job of both giving the dog what they want (a great game of tug) as well as giving us what we want (rules and boundaries). It is also a great way to build trust and wear out that puppy!

In fact, tugging is so hard-wired into most dogs that you could very well find yourself shocked to see how quickly they’ll adapt to the rules. Tug is of such high value to them that they’ll jump through hoops to play it consistently.

Good luck, let me know how it goes, and stay positive!

 

Pinball versus Stick

Pinball takes on his foremost nemesis: a stick in our backyard.

Finally a sunny and comparatively warm day we decided to combine some fun outside for the newest addition to the family, Pinball, along with a chance to test out our newest gadget – a Flip camera.

Pinball was the only member of Callie’s litter – the only boy in the litter – who wasn’t adopted from the shelter right away.  When she died it seemed right to bring him here.  He seems to be liking it – or at least the stick.

Enjoy!