Raising a Performance Puppy

I'm so excited to be getting a puppy!  I love training puppies as they're just such a clean slate.  No problem behaviors to try and interfere in their learning, although they certainly develop their own unique ones as we get to know each other.  Such little sponges!

Like many topics in dog training, how to raise your performance puppy is surrounded by heated opinions.  So much judgement!  If your puppy knows too many things you're accused of drilling and not letting your puppy have any fun or just being a dog.  If your puppy is more feral like you're judged on not setting any boundaries and clearly your puppy will never be ready for trials by that magical 18 month age!  There was also a  post on Facebook a few months ago about starting to teach agility training and everyone rushes in to pat each other on the back for resisting the urge to do any training early and surely ruin their puppies career.

I think anyone who has read this blog and seen how I raise the service dogs know that I lean towards the massive tricks side.  I have nothing against your feral puppies, I just have so much fun teaching puppies how to move their little bodies and discover how they like to learn.  If you come to my house one thing you will quickly discover is that I certainly don't spend all my time training.  I train daily with lunch, and then dinner on  the nights I'm available.  As puppies learn so fast you quickly run out of things to train!  Let's all get off our soap boxes and relax.  You may think weave training at 4 months is too young (well as do I), but someone else thinks 12 months is to young.  Is running over flattish planks too much training?  Going around a cone or upright?  Or maybe even running and exploring the woods is too risky and of course chasing a ball is too dangerous at any age.  In general  WE DON'T KNOW what is safe for limited exposure and we don't know what activities done at a young age increase the risk of injury at an older age.  Some dogs are blessed with injury free careers and others seem to be cursed despite careful precautions consisting of elaborate conditioning, proper warm ups, stretching, etc.  In lieu of bubble wrapping our dogs and not playing any sports with them, all we have are opinions.

I'm a little bit more scared in training future puppy than I am with the service puppies I've raised.  Service dogs really only need a few skills that they need absolutely solid.  Everything else is just experimentation for me and fun.  Even the skills they need to know don't have to be perfect in the obedience competition sense.  I'm sure when the puppy gets here we will be so focused on having fun that I won't be worried. But right now I'm contemplating which of the many methods I've played with to teach a stand, a front, a hold.... Ah well, there's always re-training :)

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Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.- Roger Caras

Email: lkwaudby (at) gmail.com

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