Kelinn had his first puppy class Tuesday night with Tammy Crenshaw and Sarah at FIDO dog training. These lovely ladies know the importance of a good puppy class and positive experiences with people and other dogs early in a puppy’s life. Kelinn is just about 13 weeks old now and in his prime socialization period.
Thanks to his breeders he was exposed to a variety of different animals including adult dogs and puppies, kids, cats etc. and lots of different environments and experiences. He had a good start in life so it’s our responsibility to keep going and continue to give him positive associations with everything he might encounter out in the world. Luckily he is a pretty bold and confident puppy with most things so it is easy to keep things positive.
For lots more on the importance of puppy class and some of the things a good class will cover, Dog Star Daily has it covered.
There are six puppies including Kelinn in our class, most are about his size and age except for a Golden Retriever puppy that is much too big and bouncy for him. To start off the class we had a brief play session with the puppies, which is where I discovered Kelinn is actually a bit put off by other puppies trying to play with him. Likely it has a bit to do with the herding dog personality (herders tend to be less bouncy and in your face than say, retrievers, and maybe a bit “snobbish” with other dogs sometimes) and also that he is used to adult dogs that already have polite play skills. He was not shy or hiding and happily approached other people, but if a puppy bounded up and jumped in his face he flattened his ears and occasionally lifted a lip. His “corrections” were appropriate though a bit bizarre for a puppy of his age but hopefully he will perk up a bit and learn to enjoy rough and tumble play. If not – it’s not the end of the world – some dogs are not social butterflies and that is JUST FINE!
Of course, he doesn’t have to be a social butterfly but we want to avoid any reactivity to other dogs. Reactivity is such a broad word and can describe a myriad of things – but essentially it means “reacting” in some way whether barking, lunging etc. at the sight of another dog. So far Kelinn has been extremely quiet even when other dogs are barking (which is hard for an Icelandic) and I have been rewarding him heavily just for seeing other dogs or hearing other dogs bark. Icies can be prone to reactivity because they were essentially bred to bark at anything approaching that could have threatened sheep so it’s only natural for them to bark at other dogs. Starting at a young age with reactivity prevention exercises (creating a positive association and an automatic “look at your handler” response to seeing another dog) will help reduce chances of this happening.
After playtime, we worked on creating positive associations with handling for our puppies – giving them treats and praise for letting us mess with their paws, ears, mouth, tails etc. and for being restrained. I have been working with Kelinn a lot on paw handling for nail trims – we do a paw a day right now with lots of treats (more than one for every toe at this point) so he thinks that nail trims are FUN! He also will eventually be shown in conformation which requires a dog to show their “bite” (their teeth basically) so desensitizing him to having his mouth looked at is important.
We also worked on the “gotcha game” which teaches a puppy to look forward to good things when its collar is grabbed. And we started introducing the clicker and teaching sit, down and stand. It’s a lot for one hour and we make sure to take frequent breaks in between “learning time” by letting the puppies run around and play. And of course, all this leads to a sleepy puppy when we get home: