Puppy Prep

My new border collie puppy will come home tomorrow.  His arrival signals the next chapter in my dog training adventures as he becomes a new member of the family.  While I’m deeply involved and passionate about dog agility, the puppy’s early life will be all about becoming a well mannered member of our family who is welcome at family get-togethers (the true test).  What luck that these same traits will form a great foundation for what he will also become someday in the future – a great agility dog.

This puppy is only my 4th dog and it’s been 5 yrs since I’ve raised a puppy.  So getting my mind around puppy training was the first step.  It means going back to these two principles.  1) The puppy is not human, he is hard-wired to be a dog.  2) The laws of animal learning apply, 24 x 7.

After living for years with two well behaved adult dogs it can be easy to forget the first principle.  After all, I communicate as well with 10 yr old Lacey and 6 yr old Breeze with words, looks and voice as I do most humans I know, sometimes better. They (mostly) fit seamlessly into the patterns and boundaries of our human life while still maintaining their unique personalities.

Puppies — on the other hand – remind us in big flashing lights that dogs are social predators.  Their innate (unmodified) behaviors include sniffing, chasing, scent marking, biting, resource guarding, playing and chewing.  As long as the puppy isn’t sniffing your house guest’s crotch, chasing the neighborhood children, marking the door post, biting your butt, resource guarding your bed, using your new couch as a launching pad and chewing your favorite shoes, we are good to go!  It’s so easy to forget how much we ask of a well-behaved dog.

That brings me to principle #2.   Most of puppy training involves modifying these innate behaviors to fit within the boundaries of our human lives.  We are wise to remember and understand the principles of operant and classical conditioning that are so powerful.  In addition, we must always keep in mind that we are animals too and our puppies are perfectly capable of modifying our behavior :-).

Puppy “Split” (working name) comes home tomorrow.  I’ve got the puppy pen and crate set to go, have acquired chew toys, puppy food and rounded up the puppy tug toys.  I’ve planned out the introduction to our older dogs.   Let the journey begin!

7 comments

  • Deb Bogart

    Congratulations Anne. He is really adorable. Can’t wait to meet him at HTAC USDAA Trial in a couple of weeks. The principles you mention are key. I expect Split to have perfect crate games in just a few weeks 🙂

    I’m nervous about getting my next puppy in 6-8 months because of my work schedule. I’ll have to rely on doggie daycare at my friends on Tues and Thurs and I’m still looking for a place to take him Mon, Wed and Fri in Syracuse so I can go over on my lunch hour. One of my co-workers lives just 2 miles from the office and she’s still thinking about letting me drop him off in the morning and go visit him once or twice a day for some bonding and training. Not the ideal situation, but the only one I have for at least 25 more years. Can’t leave an 8 week old alone for 11 hours/day.

  • Mary Cuccaro

    congratulations Anne! Looking forward to meeting Split.

  • Dianne Spring

    I got a flash back from a recent party and a excited puppy who shall remain un-named when you mentioned using the couch as a launching pad. 🙂

  • Leah Tesch

    Anne – Congratulations. He is very cute!! What a great idea to have a blog for your adventure with Split. I may be getting a puppy this year so your blog will help remind me of what raising a puppy is all about!

  • It’s going to be an exciting day in the Stocum household today!

    Enjoy every moment of raising Split. It goes by fast!

  • Sherry Goodwin

    I’m sure having Split join your family will be as rewarding for you as Keeley has been for us. Enjoy every day of puppyhood, it goes by so quickly. Seems like yesterday Ke was a pup and she’s two already! Sounds like you have a great training program in place…Sherry

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