puppy kindergarten
week 4 homework

Enrichment - Dissect & Destroy (appropriate things, of course)

It is perfectly natural for dogs to enjoy dissecting and destroying things and, if you have a dog that seems to enjoy this, provide (appropriate) outlets for this behavior!

Goals:

  • To encourage a wide range of foraging and exploratory behaviors

  • To encourage the development of dissection and puzzle-solving strategies and behaviors

  • Working out how to manipulate, open, dissect, and destroy a variety of items to get to the food and developing dexterous skills

  • As usual, we're encouraging interaction with the environment to get the things they like.

Applications:

  • These puzzles can keep dogs occupied as they offer different possibilities for expanding the dog’s behavioral range.

  • They are truly adaptable and again you only limited by your imagination!

  • Because of the homemade nature and variable materials used in these puzzles, it’s best to supervise your pet carefully when they have access. Know your dog! If you have an ingester, these puzzles may not work for you and your doggo!

Option 1: Treat Parcel
Wrap some tasty treats in paper of some kind or make a small treat parcel out of a toilet paper tube, butter box, etc.

Option 2: Box in a box
Wrap some tasty treats in paper of some kind or make a small treat parcel out of a toilet paper tube, butter box, etc.
Put the treat parcel inside another box - a cereal box with decoy junk mail or paper, an egg carton

Option 3: Wrap it!
Construct any kind of treat parcel and wrap it in packing paper, newspaper, junk mail, an old rag, a towel, etc.!

Socialization - Household Items & Everyday Noises

​Think about the variety of household chores or errands you may perform and include your dog in those experiences or work to teach them the utensils, equipment, and noises associated with those chores aren't things to be worried about!

  • Include your puppy in yard work - introduce them to the lawn mower, rakes, tiller, leaf bags, shovel, gardening gloves

  • Include your puppy in laundry, spending some time with the washer and dryer (and the noises they can make)

  • Involve your puppy in cleaning, bringing out the broom, Swiffer, vacuum, steam cleaner, etc.

  • Take your puppy with you to take the garbage and recycling cans to the road (on leash)

  • Take your puppy for car rides (to get used to the car, but also to experience a bunch through the windows)

  • Run the sprinkler or a hose in the yard for your puppy to run through or under

  • Visit parks, trails, and beaches (if open)

  • Stop by parking lots (with or without cars), playgrounds, tennis courts, and baseball diamonds

  • Walk in your neighborhood or visit other neighborhoods to get a variety of busy streets, sidewalks, and suburbs

  • Make sure your puppy spends time alone every.single.day.

The internet offers unlimited possibilities and videos for playing any sounds you can think of for your puppy at home (particularly if you don't have access to the real thing)!

  • Children playing

  • Babies crying

  • Skateboards

  • Crowds

  • Motorcycles

  • Cars

  • Trucks

  • Thunder

  • Heavy Rain

  • Fireworks

  • Sewing machine

  • Lawn mover

  • Leaf blower

  • Power washer

  • Construction noises

  • Vacuum cleaner

  • Dogs barking

Puppy Walks

When we talk about walking on a leash with our young puppies, there are two things I generally tell folks to think about: 1) what walking equipment are you using? And 2) adjust your expectations of what the walk will look like.

 

When it comes to equipment…

First, it is worth it to put work into making sure the collar, body harness, leash, etc. are all wonderful things to your puppy; if your puppy struggles or runs away or seems uncomfortable with the equipment you're using, definitely put work into teaching your puppy that each part of the process of putting the equipment on is rewarding (meaning, we get lots of treats or a smear of peanut butter on the cabinet or floor while getting the equipment on) or that wearing the equipment is part of fun things. For instance, you may put the leash on during puppy play time, so that it’s associated with the fun and fades into the background.

 

Second, the equipment you use can change what your walks look like. If your puppy does a lot of pulling or is even just a mild puller, I always recommend moving to a body harness - something that spreads the pressure from pulling out over the body, instead of focusing it on the puppy's throat (even a flat collar can cause damage to a puppy's trachea if they're a puller on leash!). Below are the three body harnesses I generally recommend because they're easy to fit to a variety of size and shape puppies and they have both a front and back clip for the leash.

 

On top of the harness that is used, I often recommend using a long leash (something that is 10, 15, 30, or even 50 feet long), for a few reasons:

  • Your puppy will have a chance to explore, sniff, and be a dog – some of the most valuable bits of taking your dog for a walk.

  • A long lead typically reduces the chances of your dog treating the leash like a tug toy

  • You have the chance to practice rewarding your dog for returning to you, paying attention to you!

 

Some of my clients even choose to use their standard 6 ft leash or a long leash with a waist leash device or by winding the leash around their waist, so that their hands are taken out of the equation. Taking the leash our of our hands removes the temptation of using the leash to control your dog, direct their behaviors, or pull on the leash – and, just like I don’t want your puppy to learn that’s how they get their way, I don’t want my clients to learn that either!

When it comes to adjusting your expectations of the walk...

Walking a puppy can be tricky; I often remind folks that their puppies are still very new to the world - the great, big, wide world is so much bigger and encompasses so much more than your tiny house and yard or apartment, etc., which can be intimidating!

 

Even so, we often have a particular image of what our walks will look like and puppies just have their own ideas and comfort levels as they're learning the world is a safe place. I really recommend that the first few months of walks we take our puppies on focus on socialization and mental enrichment (the line between the two tend to blur when they're young) and, overall, building confidence in the world:

  • Follow your puppy's lead - go where they take you (within safety, of course) to explore; pause when they pause; let them sniff and explore at their own pace and where their noses (and confidence) take them.

  • Remember that walks are about your puppy: it’s a time for them to explore, experience the world, and just be a DOG!

  • Use that baby voice or the “Let’s Go Explore” voice (whatever that sounds like for you and your puppy) to encourage your puppy into action if your puppy is a little hesitant.

  • Don’t be afraid to pick up your pace to encourage your puppy to chase you or jog along with you. Make a mental note if you find that your puppy parks their toosh in a particular place each time (right at the end of the driveway, for instance) and pick up the pace before that point to breeze right by it.

  • Maybe drive to a park and walk/explore there with your puppy; you're not tied to a sidewalk or path; you can put your puppy on a longer line, so they have more room to explore and move around; and there are usually fewer distractions/noises/scary things (like kids, lawn mowers, other wheeled-items-of-death - that's how my Ruby sees them anyway).

  • Help your puppy learn that you're valuable in their environment and a source of support:

    • Reward them when they choose to engage with you.

    • Reward your puppy when they’re able to calmly observe things in their environment; this helps teach your puppy that other things (particularly new things) aren’t scary – they actually mean good things will happen. And we’re teaching your puppy that you’re the valuable thing to pay attention to (instead of the new thing) by offering a tasty treat:

      • See a dog? Get a treat.

      • See a kid on a bike? Get a treat

      • See a scary new person? Get a treat.

      • Use with anything new!

 

We may have gotten a puppy with grand visions of going for long walks in the neighborhood and hanging out in the park, but that may not be something your puppy finds fun. Going for a walk may not actually be going for a “walk” in the classic sense of the word:

  • It might be more of going for a sniff in the front yard or in front of the house;

  • It might be slowly making our way down the block;

  • We might let our puppy take the reins and decide which way we go, where we turn, when we go straight, or when we take the path less traveled (keeping safety in mind, though).

  • OR maybe we don’t take walks at this point – there are plenty of ways to get physical and mental exercise in our daily life; walks are just one option available to us!

 

Above all, always remember that the walk is for your puppy, not for you - I would be very surprised if you were able to "get your steps in" with puppy walks each day! You have the rest of your puppy's life to work on great leash walking skills, but only these first few months to work on socialization (after that, it's really working on re-teaching that the world isn't scary or rewriting fears that develop).

ABC Treat Walking Pattern Game

Pattern games are a repetitive, predictable framework of cues and behaviors that helps a dog process the environment – patterns weave a safety net of predictability and expected behaviors into an unexpected, uncomfortable, or unpredictable situation. Patterns are all of the following:

  • Safe

  • Predictable

  • Repetitive

  • A natural part of learning (patterns make learning easier and faster)

  • Normalizing – a dog can process the environment from the safety of the familiar pattern

 

Note: This game is one of the pattern games created by Leslie McDevitt as part of the Control Unleashed program.

 

This pattern game helps you and your dog get from point A to point B and with less pressure than a cue for walking or in a situation where attention is cued. As mentioned with patterns above, this treat walking game allows a dog to notice their environment from the safety and comfort of the pattern. This is a simple pattern game you can use anywhere at any time and with any dog – almost zero prep work is needed!

  • Take three steps.

  • Say, "A-B-C," one letter with each step as you're walking.

  • On "C," give your puppy a treat.

You can use any three sounds if you prefer - what they are doesn't really matter to your doggo! Some dogs may stay close by; other dogs might move around some or wander off or simply be too excited to catch on that the third sound equals treats. If that seems to be the case, you may start the game standing still and with a handful of stinky treats right in front of your dog’s nose; each time you get to the third sound, open your hand. Resist the urge to call your dog to you, pat your leg, or pull them to you with their leash; this game is about teaching your dog an association – not telling them what to do.

The Counting Game

This game has so many uses! With this game:

  • You can check if your dog is ready to engage with you.

  • You can get your dog to you without using their name, a Recall cue, or any other tired, old cue your dog is no longer paying attention to.

  • You can direct your dog’s attention away from something over to you, encouraging your dog to turn away from something they might react to in some way.

The possibilities are limitless! And the process is pretty simple:

  • Say the word ‘One’ and drop or place a treat on the floor near your feet.

  • Say ‘Two’ and drop another treat.

  • Say ‘Three’ and drop another.

  • Continue until your dog is ready and comes over for the treats.

  • While your dog is finishing up the treats that you’ve dropped, move to a new spot several feet away and begin counting again.

I generally recommend repeating this three or four times, moving to a new spot each time. Ideally, each time you count in a new spot, you spend less and less seconds counting – meaning your dog is headed your way quicker and quicker each time you count each session. You may do this standing, sitting, kneeling, or squatting. You may use an exaggerated, sweeping arm motion (as a means of grabbing your dog’s attention visually) or you might be more discreet, turning away from your dog and pretending there’s something really interesting by your shoe. Most important to the game, have fun! It’s a game for a reason!

Note: This game was designed by Chirag Patel of Domesticated Manners.