Dog’s Eye View: Bounce back from bumps in the road
A friend shared a concern with me about her high-energy puppy. She said she was worried she might slip up, and the pup would learn something she didn’t want her to learn.
This is a high achieving puppy mom. The nice thing is that my friend has done just about everything that we recommend in our puppy classes to get them started well.
She uses a variety of super reinforcing treats to keep her puppy interested and focused. She uses a high rate of reinforcement for the behaviors she is teaching (sit, lie down, come here, etc). This means that she delivers at least one treat each time the behavior is completed and sometimes more — a jackpot (several treats in a row) for an especially great effort.
This puppy lives in a home that is rich in novel environmental stimulation, play, human companionship and sound preventive management. The bond between owner and puppy is about a good as it gets with a 5-month-old puppy. I would say that the trust in their relationship is rich and healthy. This budding connection will last a lifetime.
You can hardly invest too much in your relationship with your dog. When a rough patch comes along — and it surely will — a small withdrawal from the relationship account will have little effect on your long-term bond.
When I think of the times I have turned around, tripped over and scared my own dog who was lying behind me or clipped a toenail too short or had to change bandages on a wound that might be painful, I am glad he and I have an elastic and trusting rapport.
If your little darling puppy is growing into an 80-pound sporting dog, and you realize that letting her chew up an old shoe is coming back to haunt you, take heart. Rather than yelling and chasing her all over the house because she’s got your new ski boot, you can close the closet doors while teaching her the value of chewing on a never ending supply of new and interesting, safe, re-stuffable toys, such as Kongs and hollow beef bones.
I believe my friend will see she will have plenty of “bounce back” in her puppy when she needs it. Keep making those deposits in your relationship account.
Sandra Kruczek is a certified professional dog trainer at Total Teamwork Training with more than 30 years of experience.
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Steamboat Springs part-time resident David Dennis is approaching the third-year mark from when his right leg was amputated below the knee.