In any course there needs to be an objective, but strangely enough I am not sure that this is given as much thought as it should.
You need to think very hard about what you want your dog to be like when he is 3 years old, so you might say “An Obedience Champion”.
Ok no problem, now you need a plan that will start with the short and midterm goals you will need to achieve if you are to achieve your long term goal (Obedience Champion).
Why would a dog want to be Obedient? Well the true answer is they don’t, but they will be if they believe it works for them, they will be. Right?
Works for them? Yes, it pays them to do what you ask. This means your short term goal is to establish a need for food and play with your pup the instant you meet and work on fulfilling that need a few times a day. Once your dog agrees that he has the need and you fulfil it, you can ask him to work for you and you will give him back his food and play in return. A little at first but then quite a bit more soon after.
Other short term goals are going to be how you will manage your pup between training sessions and how you will teach your pup to fit into your world.
This program intentionally lacks steps, but has high focus on concepts that teach you to understand, teach, train and reward your pup. I have 8 weeks (from 8 weeks to 16 weeks) to get you thinking this way and you will be required to think and create a box to work outside of.
Remember that you have bought a dog from the top shelf in terms of potential, but that does not mean you will end up with a great dog. The reality means that you could end up with the worst dog you or anyone has ever seen, that is the problem with the word potential.
The higher the potential for excellence the greater the potential for disaster, greater risks have the biggest pay offs.
A dog with low potential probably doesn’t do much right, or wrong.
Malinois are not toys.
This is a saying that I will use a lot, it is very likely that at some stage you will conclude that your Malinois is just like any other dog with a bit more drive perhaps. This thought will likely enter your head when the puppy is between 12 and 26 weeks.
This is a huge mistake and I will tell you why. When you get your pup, you will see some behaviours that are assertive, confident, driven and probably rank, but you will see other behaviours that are submissive, sensitive and reactive.
All Malinois are born like this, but with training and playing the sensitive side will only be visible to us, and the other side will grow exponentially until your dog is at least three years old.
If you have made the grave error of underestimating your Malinois, you could be in real trouble.
Lets suggest you raise your Malinois like your other dogs, it roams around the house and lives in your back yard and plays at the dog park. I don’t know how you would get all this to happen without carnage by the way but let’s say you did. You would have lowered the potential of your dog to somewhere near what a mere ordinary dog is.
I raise my dog by revolving most of my world around him for a year to 18 months. As time goes by, less and less management is needed, the exercise pen in my house is gone at around 20 – 26 weeks.
As we move forward my dog needs less and less management because he has grown into the world I have made for him. Even if I have (and I did have) other dogs at the time, I make my Malinois feel so special he is the only one.
He never shares me and I won’t share him. Even at 4 years old I don’t let him run the back yard on his own. Why? I haven’t got enough space on our server to type the possible disastrous things he could do.
He is capable of fighting a number of men at once and beating them in every scenario, but he never touches a person unless I say so. So some say “he will be fine”.
He probably would be but in the slight chance he would engage the neighbour riding a horse, the damage is irreparable. Huge potential.
Having that said he will be off leash in public places, see this video, and never makes a mistake.
He is never allowed to greet people as they walk into my property, now he is a very social and friendly dog, but why take that risk.
He has astounded every person who has witnessed his work, his bite work is incredible and anyone from the top levels of our Police Dog Units, Armed Forces and Correctional services teams who has worked him has been left speechless.
He is gentle but protective of my children, he is intelligent, cunning and my wife regards him as “the smartest dog I have ever seen!”.
I feel he has reached his potential in the system that I have raised him in and if you commit to your dog, that I have bred for you, spent hundreds of hours imprinting in their first weeks of life, and follow my system, you will have very little to wish for when your dog is three years old.
Learn to be firm, not hard, learn to reward at the highest levels, but only when it is earned, install a communication system in your team that is clear, concise and consistent and manage your dog well by giving him or her only access to good lessons that will contribute to your long term goals.
If by 16 weeks your puppy is not meeting your short term goals, let’s talk and raise the bar and catch up to where he or she needs to be, don’t just let it go.
What I have done in the Imprinting Period 0 – 8 weeks.
Well first I am going to tell you what I did differently from my other litters.
- The scent imprinting I do with your sweaty T shirts was not at all used to play tug as I have done before. I instead paired your scent with food. Why? Because my other litters would rip into their owners legs and whilst some may like it, it has no long term benefit. These pups still do that, but nowhere near as much.
- I swapped lots of games for tugs for more environmental conditioning, meaning they will climb on top of boxes, each other or anything and any surface without showing hesitation for a simple piece of food. This has created more stability where you can develop the level of prey drive that is needed for your goals. Sometimes I think I was handing out pups that were prey drive super stars and the new owners were playing catch up. These guys have very strong prey drive and will develop a lot more with you.
- Many Malinois have very little food drive, this is a problem when you are trying to achieve your short to midterm goals. Why? Because for precision training we use food and when the training is looking solid we add prey (toy) rewards. Food drive is always strong in my pups but there is a “tail” to the “head” of the coin. Socially dominant dogs (like the ones I breed) that have very high food drive are susceptible to resource guarding over food. In fact there is part of the program designed to lessen or combat this issue before it arises.
This litter have been fed through 5 different steps to counter any aggression around food.
- The started being fed from litter feeding bowls that around round and 4 pups at a bowl leaving plenty of room.
- We moved onto our feeding station where each pup is assigned a bowl and a weighed out amount of food, with a divider in between so pups are not looking at others whilst eating.
- We moved them to separate feeding, one pup at a time in new environments, whilst very time consuming x 10, it is worth it.
- We hid the food separately in new places and set challenges to find their food, measuring how long they would search, looking for anxiety when they didn’t find the food right away etc.
- We set physical challenges to get food, climb on card board boxes, get food from within boxes, hid the food behind obstacles that stretched the pups physical limits.
Between 0 and 8 weeks the pups started in air conditioned stabilised temperatures, gradually the ac was switched off and the door left open, they were given access to grassed area and then they were exposed to rain, heat, wind and storms. They are tough.
What I always do
- This litter like all of them were exposed to sounds, gun fire, helicopters, trains, babies crying, kids playing, motor cycles etc but the program I have given you advises you to keep on doing this. The guys from the A litter did this and their dogs are rock solid under distraction.
- They have met quite a few people, kids and other adult dogs (mine) and have been taught to stay with me.
- They have been exposed to new environments such as the shops, my house, our shop, storage area, vet, chiro etc. This is a small beginning though you need to keep this rolling on.
- They have worked for food, followed food and will find and hunt food.
- They are clean pups, I personally spend around 2 plus hours every day, seven days a week cleaning up after them, cleaning their room, concrete run and grassed run so they will be easy to toilet train.
- They have a lot of external stimulants such as colourful castles, ramps, obstacles, bridges, noisy toys, tugs and stuff to play with every day.
- they have been wormed at 4 weeks and 7 weeks. Drontal like to worm the pups every two weeks but to me that is a lot of chemical. I recommend worming them monthly when you get them home until 6 months.
- They have been vaccinated at 7 weeks, they are due at 16 weeks. Two puppies had a fever after being vaccinated, the rest were fine. There is a risk to vaccinating dogs but there is also a risk to not vaccinating them. You have 8 weeks to figure out your best course of action.
- They have had a structural assessment, all pups had good report. He reported that a few of them had a bruise here and there. If you see them play, fight and chase each other, I am surprised that is all they had. Mals are a super active dog.
We will give those who live in NSW and the ACT a voucher to have your pup checked again on us. I recommend getting into this habit with these dogs. Athletes need structural work all the time. I would check them at 20 weeks of age or there about. You can’t have them checked too much.
If you get a 20 week check and all is well get one at 40 weeks and then at 13 months. Then probably yearly unless you see symptoms. If in the above checks your dog needs adjustments, you might go more often.
Keeping your dog lean and fit and helping him or her build muscle keeps away injuries.
I have spent countless hours with them, as has Bec and my family have been helping too.
From here you are given an opportunity to mould this little piece of perfect clay into the statue you want to show everyone.
This program will help and you will have endless support from us.