We received this letter from a Puppy Camp student and I was thrilled to hear about puppy camp achieving exactly what I had hoped when we began it last year. We get thank you notes all the time from students (yay!) but this was so detailed and clear that I asked Dana for permission to share it on our website. Note: I also added in some links, but otherwise, this is Dana’s original email. It’s especially valuable feedback, because Dana is a Ph.D. clinical psychologist!
My French Bulldog puppy, Babette, has been a grateful Puppy Camp student for eight weeks. I wanted to drop a note to make sure you are aware of what amazing work is going on there. I really cannot imagine how Babette’s development would have played out had it not been for Frank, Amber and Katie. Continue reading Babette: Puppy Camp Success Story
Will this be your dog’s first summer in your home? Have your puppy spend some time in your back yard today to get used to the sights and sounds of spring. The reason to do this is to teach your puppy not to bark at people, dogs, and other distractions in your neighborhood.
Continue reading Puppy and New Dog Tip for Spring!
Ahimsa Dog Training is on King 5’s New Day Northwest tomorrow along with some of our great PUPPIES!
You are invited to be in the studio audience for the show. I’ll be talking about puppy socialization and dog aggression – the dogs are there to be cute and get socialized!!
They say the whole show will be great. Dave from Dave’s Killer Breads is on to debut his new bread and to bring armfuls of deliciousness for the audience! Seats are FREE! Audience in at 9:30am, done by 11:30.
UPDATE: Click here to see the puppy socialization video clip. Note that any puppy socialization needs to be upbeat and positive!
Just add an easy food puzzle, and mix!
Stuff a Kong, Squirrel Dude, Twist-n-Treat, or other food puzzle with wet dog food. Freeze it (have several so there’s always a frozen food puzzle for your puppy or dog).
Make sure your puppy understands the good-puzzle concept by having your dog work through a few inside the house (different days).
In a fenced-in yard or supervised on a leash, give your puppy the Kong to enjoy. It will last a lot longer, frozen. your puppy will passively hear the noises of the world, but not react to them. Do this a bunch!
Give a food puzzle and relax in different locations, too:
– Dog training class
– Bus stop
– Front yard
– Back yard
– Coffee shop
– On a bus (older puppy)
– At a busy park, like Green Lake (off the path)
– Near a playground
Repeat, repeat, repeat! Bring your own entertainment, like a book to read (Ahimsa training manual, maybe?).
Just make sure no other dogs try to steal your puppy’s great toy. You should also rehearse trading the food puzzle for a treat (then giving the toy back, usually), so you don’t end up with resource guarding.
For our students: also look at the training manual for the Relaxation Protocol, which is great to practice in all of the settings above.
When socializing your puppy, take it at the puppy’s speed. If he wants to walk away from a person, go with him! He may just need a moment to regroup and build his confidence. It’s critical that puppies have good experiences as their own pace, not forced interactions.
Watch for body language while he’s being petted, like glancing away, turning his head, sniffing the ground, walking away, shaking off, or quickly licking his lips. If you see any of those, just happily say, “let’s go!” and walk a few steps away with the puppy. You can even hand out a treat at that point (for putting up with the stranger and for coming with you), and then possibly see if he wants to go back for more.
Do this with everything: other dogs, strangers, kids, garbage cans, etc. Let him check out scary stuff from what he thinks is a safe distance. The more he can trust you on the leash, the more brave he will be. And since most aggression is really just fear, now is your chance to do some aggression prevention.
That’s what I asked the woman with her 10-week-old Golden X puppy. I had just left Ahimsa to go get lunch and was about to turn right. Instead, I saw this woman and her young daughter up ahead with a puppy. Cute! I thought, followed immediately by a mortified, “oh my Dog, did she just hit that puppy?” She smacked it 3-4 times and then it moved away, and she hit it some more, probably yelling at the same time. I couldn’t hear her from inside my car.
So I barreled over there in my car and slammed on the brakes beside her. “Can you please stop hitting that puppy?” She looked up, slightly embarrassed, and tried to excuse the hitting, since the puppy had just jumped up and bitten her child. I told her that there were lots of great ways to get the puppy to stop biting, and I’d love to show her. But of course, it’s hard to be receptive when a perfect stranger comes and criticizes you from their car window, so she politely walked off. At least she didn’t yell at me. Continue reading Can you please stop hitting that puppy?
I talked my wife into getting a Wii because it would allow us to play tennis in the winter, without even having to go anywhere. We set it up yesterday and Peanut thought it was fine – just some new kind of DVD player. Once we started playing tennis and boxing in the living room, though, he decided that we had gone completely crazy. He slumped upstairs to wait for our sanity to return.
That got me to thinking…what a great puppy socialization tool! Too bad I didn’t have this game 7 years ago, when Peanut was a puppy.
Continue reading Wii – Could a Video Game Help with Puppy Socialization?
Is there a middle ground between banning pit bulls in Seattle and ignoring the fact that attacks like the recent awful, terrible, scary mauling of a 71-year-old woman keep happening, by dogs reported to be pit bulls? I think so. It’s not enough to target pit bulls. We need to prevent aggression from all breeds. I don’t think we should settle for protecting Seattle against pit bulls. Legislation should apply to all dog breeds, whenever possible, for the most possible protection.
Continue reading Pit Bull Breed Ban versus Dog Safety Legislation
Why do breeders continue to breed dogs that are not of sound temperament? The dogs meet the AKC beauty standards, but dogs can be dangerous, and living with an aggressive dog has a huge effect on our lives and the life of the dog. We should be breeding for calm, happy golden retrievers, labs, pit bulls, pomeranians, chihuahuas, etc. Temperament needs to be placed over beauty. Can’t we make a law? Continue reading Breeding Dogs for Temperament
Seattle is a very dog-friendly city. Dogs can even ride the bus in Seattle, you just may have to pay for it. If you have a puppy, the bus is a lovely way to socialize your dog will lots of different people. Bringing a dog on the bus changes the dynamic – even the “normal” people on the bus will talk to you if you have a puppy!
Continue reading Dogs on the Bus in Seattle (King County)
I get this question a fair amount. I’d rather get this question than have people simply skip puppy class, believing that their other dog(s) will socialize the new puppy. It helps to have dogs at home, but it’s not enough, and it may convince you to not be as diligent in socializing your new puppy.
Why it’s important to still take your puppy to a training & socialization class: Continue reading I have other dogs. Does my puppy still need Puppy class?