Be one with your puppy
Without going into excessive behaviour theories, I want to explain why some puppies are nervous and hesitant around their owners and why we need to make sure this doesn’t happen with our pup.It may appear that your puppy just likes his personal space, but it is really more than that. All mammals, yes that includes us are affected by the forces of “oppositional reflex”. You can study this but let’s just say, as you approach your puppy, the faster you approach and the closer you get, the puppy will feel pressure to move away from you.
As you move away from you the puppy will feel pressure drop and almost like a vacuum, will be drawn toward you.
We can relieve the approach pressure with conditioning, and this is what this program is about.
If we don’t do this we are never entirely sure if the dog is feeling pressure being next to us, and this could affect some obedience like recalls, fronts and heel position just to name a few. It can lower the value of rewards that are handed from you o the dog because the dog feels that it is encroaching on your space or you on your dogs.
Have you ever seen a dog that has great ball drive but very sedate, calm or outwardly submissive or nervous around the handler? Well we don’t want that.
The first set of conditioning exercises involve me rewarding the pup for contact with me, so I could use a hand touch like we do in clicker training with the overly sensitive pups to get started, but most pups I start as follows.
I will offer some food to the puppy and I will back away from the puppy (using Oppositional Reflex) to draw the puppy toward me.
As the puppy starts to follow I will let the puppy nibble at the food and when engaged with the food I stop, if the puppy stops eating I encourage it to start again.
If the puppy doesn’t stop eating I begin moving forward whilst trying to keep the puppy eating. If the puppy starts to move backwards but keeps eating, back up a couple of steps again and slow stop teaching the puppy to keep eating as it approaches you.
If your puppy drops off the food here you may need to run this sessions a few times.
Once I have done three repetitions and the puppy will keep eating as I move away and then push puppy back as I walk into it, I will raise the bar.
Raising the bar has some very similar exercises as I use in the Touch, Hold, Brush and Carry program.
Start by sitting on the floor leaning against a wall or a couch, have your knees facing up making an arch happen under your knee. Reach from between yours legs and show your pup food, have the puppy crawl through the tunnel you have made with your legs. Once this is fluid lower your legs so the puppy is making contact with your legs the whole crawl. I at times start teaching the down this way.
At times I will when the puppy is under my knee in the tunnel lure the puppy to crawl up between my legs onto my chest. This will pay a lot later on if you want a close front and a dog that has no body awareness problems.
Next I will have my puppy standing behind me and I will open my legs to stand apart. I reach between my legs with food and teach the pup to come between my legs.
As the pup does I begin walk off and as the pup nibbles the food it ends up walking between my legs with me standing over the pup. The test is to see if puppy keeps eating, if it does, excellent move on.
Next is that, we want to pick the puppy up into our arms, the goal will be to lay the puppy in your arms like a human baby and see if the puppy will eat. A good number of puppies will not like this, but by persisting you are desensitizing your puppy to this position and this will mean that the pup can grow into an adult dog and have no issues being rolled on its back and being approached.
The puppies I breed will have no issue with this at all, because from the time they are 3 days old I run Early Neurological Stimulation exercises on them that include the Bio Sensor Program.
These programs help expose the puppies to minor bouts of stress and teach them how to manage and deal with stress in a controlled set of exercises.
I want you to practice the last exercise, rolling your puppy on its back and feeding it there until your puppy is “optimistic” about the exercise, predicts getting treats etc.
This is not the Alpha Roll or preparing a dog to be later Alpha Rolled, it is simply an exercise to teach the puppy that you mean it no harm even its most vulnerable position.
In addition to this, I like to teach the puppy during play time with me that I will crawl over it and it can crawl on and over me, there is no where that is off limits in my personal space, just times when I will direct the puppy to do other things. Like sit instead of jump on me.
This program is not written for one specific outcome and it is not trying to teach “manners”. In fact those that teach manners often have hesitant dogs that don’t perform well.
My dogs will jump on me in play, but not when I ask them not too, they don’t fear retribution from me if they jump, they just understand I won’t reward it at that time.
This program is about raising a performance dog.