Got Puppy, Must Play!
I’ve been asked on many occasions, when did you start training Küster. Truth be told from the time we picked him up. We did the things that everyone does with a puppy. Do we let our puppies explore? Do we allow people to pet and hold our puppies? The answer is, yes. I think the main difference between the working dog and a pet as puppies is the end motivation. I need Küster to love people. So Houndstooth and I went out of our way to introduce him to almost everyone that would make eye contact. The end result, he is not shy, loves people, and according to him his poo doesn’t stink.
Exploring we will go.
Küster was allowed to explore and get on things in his surroundings. We encouraged it. Let him learn about different surfaces and that sometimes things move from under your feet. Everything was controlled so he wouldn’t get hurt. Everything was fun, exciting and had a reward at the end. The end motivation was helping him gain confidence on unstable surfaces. One puppy game we play is chase. Puppies love to chase. We let Küster chase us around. Once he was little bigger we would put something in his way. Let him think about going over or around it. The bigger he grew physically the larger the obstacle. These types of games help to build a foundation of training and rewards. I feel they were key to helping me learn how he works, reacts, and learns. I’m sure he was also taking notes on how I work.
We have created a monster.
I’ve always found the first year or so during a dog’s life totally fascinating. They are all go, all fun, and take in everything. Many of our regular subscribers to Tales And Tails know that another K-9 handler started a puppy at the same time. I believe that their birthdays are only a week apart. It was interesting to watch the differences in their personalities. K9-Buzz, a Golden Retriever, was the type of dog to jump straight onto everything. K9-Küster, well, he would put on the brakes. Make sure it wasn’t going to kill him, then jump in. Different breeds take to things in different ways. It’s our job to make sure they are learning and having fun.
Here, this is how it’s done
I was also lucky enough to have a “retired” area search dog named, Taeryn as part of our group. Taeryn was really good with the puppies. So a few times after all the adult dogs were finished training we would bring out the puppies and let them follow the Taeryn around. It was good for them to learn not to be afraid of climbing on things that might seem scary.
A good foundation
Raising a search and rescue dog from a puppy is in reality a gamble. But, we try to set that good foundation with games and lots of fun. This continues throughout a dog’s life. Once, we find the discipline that we feel the dog is best suited for, the games continue. Yes, Küster is now two years old and finding people is one big game with a reward if he finds the correct person when he is trailing.