puppy kindergarten
week 2 homework

Enrichment - Blankets / Towels / Etc.
Goals:

  • Encourage a wide range of foraging and exploratory behaviors.

  • Encourage the development of strategies for getting the food. By offering a variety of blanket snuffle puzzles, we can help the dog expand their range of puzzle-busting behaviors and facilitate your puppy applying strategies from other puzzles to new ones; that’s a true cognitive gift and is growing your dog’s brain!

  • Blanket snuffle puzzles encourage pets to interact with their environment – just the very interaction with the blanket is encouraging the pet to manipulate their surroundings to get the things they like.

  • By varying the design and adjusting the difficulty, we can facilitate a range of different behaviors, broadening the dog’s repertoire.

 

Blanket snuffle puzzles are simple and straightforward, but no matter how much practice your pet gets with these puzzles, they are always challenging because the blanket will always fall in random ways, adding to the challenge for your pet.

 

These puzzles can be put together with a blanket or towel, etc., and are incredibly simple, so they can be put together and used when very little equipment is available or when space and time are tight! Note: If you are concerned about your dog ingesting non-food items during puzzling, have a pocketful of HIGH value treats in your pocket and be ready to toss a couple toward your dog if you think they are thinking about eating the something they shouldn’t.

Below are just a few options you may try with your puppy!

Option 1: Things Under a Blanket

  1. Place some food rewards on the floor.

  2. Cover with the blanket, loosely.

  3. Let your dog find it and watch for the types of behavior used to get to the reward.

 

Option 2: Treat Blanket

  1. Scatter some food rewards on a flat blanket.

  2. Cover them, swirl the blanket so that everything is mixed and messed up, or just bunch the blanket a bit to create ridges for the dog to paw through and snuffle through.

  3. Let 'em at it!

 

Option 3: Blanket Roll Up

  1. Scatter some food rewards on a flat blanket.

  2. Roll it up like a Swiss Roll.

  3. Let your puppy give it a go!

 

Option 4: Folded Blanket

  1. Scatter some food rewards on a flat blanket.

  2. Fold the blanket up in whatever way you'd like - as if you'll put it back in the cabinet, like a paper football, in a random / haphazard way, etc.

  3. Pass it to your puppy to give it a try!

These are just a few options - feel free to give it a try any other way you can think!

Socialization - Surfaces and Textures

Raid your garage and closets to find any and all novel surfaces you can think of for your puppy to step on and play on!

  • Parchment paper

  • Aluminum foil

  • Cardboard

  • Plastic bags

  • Bubble wrap

  • Packing paper

  • Styrofoam (if your puppy won't be chewing it)

  • Towels and blankets

  • Crumbled up newspaper or junk mail

  • A plastic box with a bit of water

  • Pillows

  • Big and fluffy dog beds

  • Air mattress

  • Sleeping pad

  • Cookie sheet on top of food bowl

  • A wooden board or cookie sheet balanced on a pool noodle (a mini teeter)

  • Skateboard

Also, consider the surfaces and textures your puppy may come across out in the world!

  • Pavers and pavement

  • Gravel

  • Wooden bridges and walkways

  • Wood chips

  • Grass

  • Shiny tile floor

  • Vinyl

  • Laminate

  • Carpet

  • Memory foam (such as bathroom mats)

The list goes on!

Polite Greetings with Other Humans

It’s super exciting to meet people – whether that’s a neighbor or a stranger out on a walk or a guest coming over! Unfortunately, your dog might show this excitement in a variety of ways: jumping, licking, mouthing, forceful nudging, climbing into your guests’ laps on the couch, etc. None of these are unexpected ways for your dog to act – they’re doing these things because they work; your dog gets the attention they’re looking for (whether we think it’s good or bad attention) by doing these things! If, however, we’re not too keen on these behaviors, we can work on making greetings less boisterous and more relaxed.

Tips

  • Consistency is key! Inconsistency with training sets unclear expectations for your dog and they’ll continue to do the behaviors we’re not so fond of at every opportunity for reinforcement (attention) they’re looking for.

  • Practice! Have “pretend” or real guests come over to practice the new behaviors your dog is learning, setting up the environment for both you and your dog, and removing the opportunity for rewards.

  • If you know the sound of the doorbell or the sound of knocking sets your puppy or dog into a frenzy, take time to desensitize them to the noise and reinforce calm behavior or a lack of a response.

  • Note: Even if you or someone tells your dog “No” and pushes them down for jumping, for instance, you’re giving them eye contact and talking to them; you’re touching them and playing a game with them. All of this is reinforcing to your puppy and they’ll keep trying to get what they want by doing what has worked for them in the past.

 

Training our dogs not to jump and to remain calm for greetings can be done with a few key pieces:

First, set up the environment or situation for your dog to succeed.

  • When on a walk, your dog is already on leash, which is super helpful – more on that later!

  • If you have guests coming over, you have a few options for managing the environment:

    • Put a collar/harness and leash on your dog (and station them off to the side or away from the door, so your guests have room to enter) for the greeting with your guests and keep them on leash until they’re calm.

    • Set up a baby gate or barrier between your dog and the door your guests will be entering – again, so that they have time and space to enter the house and get coats and such off.

    • Ask your guests to text or call you when they’re on their way or when they’ve arrived, so you have time to get the leash on your dog or get the barrier set up.

    • Remind folks to calmly pet your dog and below their chin or on their chest – instead of on top of the head (this often encourages jumping or excitable behavior).

 

Second, remove the rewards for behavior we’re not crazy about.

  • As smart as we think our neighbors, friends, and family are, they’re often not great at following instructions or will choose the wrong moments to reward your dog. So, you need to be clear about when they can interact with your dog and when they should not be (or should stop).

  • When I have guests come over, I literally tell them to pretend I don’t have a dog and that there’s nothing to see or touch or play with; if your guests interact with your dog when they’re jumping or participating in other boisterous behaviors, those are the behaviors being rewarded (and that will continue). But, if your guests are busy pretending there’s nothing there, no rewarding of unwanted behaviors!

  • If you’re ok with letting your dog greet someone on a walk…

    • Ask folks to stop several feet away from you, while you work with your dog.

    • Ask them to stand still and ignore the dog (be a statue – statues don’t talk or move or make eye contact with dogs).

    • When your dog is ready to say Hello, you may ask the person to put their hand down close to their calf (or, if your dog is nervous, you may ask them to continue ignoring your dog while they sniff the person and get some information).

 

Finally, the most important piece of advice? Reward what you want to see your dog doing!

  • Teach your dog alternative behaviors – behaviors your puppy or dog can do instead of all those boisterous behaviors during a greeting.

  • Offer treats for anything remotely calm:

    • All four paws on the floor or ground

    • Offering a Sit

    • Laying down

    • Going to a mat, bed, blanket, or rug (when guests come over)

  • When your dog can offer these behaviors in front of a person they may be able to greet, you may choose to give some kind of cue to say Hello – something like, “Go say Hi.”

    • After the cue, you can allow your dog and the person to interact.

    • As mentioned, you may tell the person to keep their hand close to their calf, so your dog doesn’t need to jump to get to the hands for petting.

    • Remind the person to pet the chest and sides of your dog, since going over the top of the head, patting the head, or touching the face can encourage jumping, mouthy behavior, or could be uncomfortable to your dog.

    • After greeting the person for a few seconds, guide your dog away (by moving away, luring away with a couple treats in front of their nose, making fun noises and excitement away from the other person, etc.).

      • After moving away, you might just continue your walk; you might direct your dog’s attention to a toy or a chew or Kong that will keep them occupied while your guest is visiting; or you may return to rewarding some calm, relaxed behavior you like seeing.

      • Depending on how the greeting went and if you’re practicing this with a guest to your home, you may try another greeting to see if it can be calmer or if your dog can do a slightly longer greeting that will have them a step closer to mingling with your guests.

    • If your dog gets too excited before a few seconds have elapsed, simply guide your dog away as mentioned above and continue your walk or try saying Hello to the guest again a bit later after calming down again. Try to be calm when guiding your dog away, so that you’re not drawing attention to the behavior you don’t want your dog to repeat (jumping at your guest or adding other boisterous behavior into the mix).

Puppy Playtime! (With humans)

Before getting a puppy, we usually imagine how we’ll spend time with them; this, of course, usually includes puppy playtime. Most of the time, playing with the puppy is a big reason for why we decide to add a puppy to the family: we want a playmate for our young children to grow up with; we’d like another dog for our current dog to play with when we’re gone from the house; or we’re looking to fill an empty nest with a little more activity after the kids move out.

Regardless of the reasons for bringing a puppy home, the importance of spending quality time with your puppy and playing with them cannot be overstated – there are just so many benefits!

  • Playtime can easily be turned into opportunities for socialization. You’re able to encourage interaction with a variety of new sights, sounds, experiences, etc. and help your puppy have greater comfort with a range of unfamiliar objects, situations, and scenarios.

  • Playing with your puppy teaches them valuable lessons about how to properly interact with humans – particularly small humans.

  • Along with learning how to properly interact with humans, you and your puppy are building and strengthening your relationship during every play session!

  • Playtime is a super convenient time to provide daily mental enrichment for your puppy (something you BOTH can reap a lot of benefit from).

  • Learning proper play and learning that play is an appropriate, fun activity can help prevent a lot of behavior issues.

  • When play and toys are introduced early, puppies are less likely to target our possessions, pester the other dog, or bother the cat for playtime.

  • A puppy busy playing – or tired out from playing – simply has fewer opportunities for mischief and mayhem!

 

Any interaction with your puppy is a “teachable moment”; they’re always learning things from you – whether you like it or not – and playtime gives you the power to make so many of these early moments work in your favor (in a fun way), setting you and your puppy up for life-long success!

I encourage a lot of variety in your play with your puppy:

  • Purchase, provide, and play with a wide range of toys with your puppy

    • Chew toys

    • Tug toys

    • Balls for fetch or keepaway

    • Stuffed toys

    • Toys that make noises (squeaking, crackling, giggling, etc.)

  • Figure out what your dog prefers - how they like to play, what keeps them interested in time with you, and what they return to when they have choices.

  • Remember that play doesn't have to involve toys, too! You may play hide n' seek, teach tricks, play chase, offer "claw hands," wrestle and rough house, etc. Keep in mind, though, that some of these games may rile your puppy up too much right now and may be games to revisit or try out when they're a little older!