Can You Teach a Puppy To Avoid Future Conflicts? You Bet!

Week 11 in puppies’ lives started with a birth of another litter slightly before the due date, altering our schedule of games and challenging the puppies to accept longer breaks between activities. Their reactions exceeded all my expectations. They are such good puppies! Their attention and desire to explore new games was fantastic. Just check out those sweet attentive faces directed at me the second I address them.

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With limited time I decided to still go through the new protocols I had planned and it turned out to be the best way to mentally stimulate and at the same time tire the puppies for long rests in between.

With all the foundation they have received so far they breezed through new protocols, slept like angels in their crates between outings, and showed a stellar understanding of when it was appropriate to be crazy rambunctious and when to slow down and chill.

It didn’t seem like there was any work on my part, but rather welcome, delicious breaks to be with them. I will describe here only some of our protocols.

Let’s All Be Friends

The biggest challenge I have faced in regards to living with multiple Norwich terriers had to do with jealousy between each other when vying for my attention, to the point of two girls being so aggressively jealous of each other that they could not be in the same room. They meant each other harm. Those painful experiences and my failure to avoid such chronic conflict was the genesis of this protocol. I used it in the last 5 years or so with great success.

DSC_6093The biggest trigger to being possessive about me is being held on my lap, which in technical terms is called “resource guarding”. My lap is the resource and the dog sitting on it guards it against others by growling and snapping (with associated negative emotions). My terriers are never food or toy aggressive, but some used to exhibit a strong resource guarding of my lap.

DSC_6098Do you remember Pavlov’s bell? Well, I use this principle to have my puppy associate other dogs approaching us (while he’s on my lap) the way Pavlov’s dogs associated a bell. I sit down on the grass, or on a floor indoors, and place a puppy on my lap when other puppies are a slight distance away. Of course the other puppies immediately want to get to me and climb on my lap as well. As soon as they get close the puppy on my lap gets high value food shoved in its mouth before it gets any time to protest arrival of his brothers.

DSC_6079 (2) This gets repeated throughout the day, day after day, with each puppy. I then vary the distance from other puppies, and again the moment they get close the puppy on my lap gets rewarded. This exercise creates what in dog training is called CER (conditioned emotional response). This conditioning creates involuntary response in a puppy when someone is approaching us while he is on my lap.  The puppy is responding with pleasure. The involuntary and emotional aspect of the association makes it rock solid.

All science.

Canine Social Skills

DSC_6132This impressionable time in puppies’ lives (week 11) matters a lot in acquiring proper canine social skills. They learn bite inhibition, learn to modulate intensity of their roughhousing, to read other dogs’ body language, to invite play and respond appropriately, to exercise their inbred instinct (for terriers it means rodent hunting) and yes some doggy behaviors we don’t love, like rolling in stinky stuff.

The best role model is always the mother. Beanie’s particular brand of maternal education reflects why we call her our tomboy.

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Yes, that photo on the left above is a mother body slamming a puppy while another puppy is running for cover. I swear she loves them.

Lessons In Being A Terrier

When the adult dogs are actively tracking rodents I am not taking any chances in that highly charged situation and let the puppies observe only from a safety of an x-pen.

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As for what they learn from their sire, well… rolling in stinky is high on his list of life skills.

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He might have whispered the instructions to Banzo earlier that day…

Alert and Stop

Another protocol that I developed as a reaction to something undesirable my adult dogs were doing was accepting the inevitable alert barking in a typically excitable terrier style  but then teaching a puppy to stop when I clap my hands.

I actually reward puppies for alert-barking (when I can see a clear reason for the alert, like someone walking on our street, which is not a common thing). I give them praise and acknowledge that I see what they are “talking about” and then I clap my hands and immediately reward the silence. Initially, the clap is startling enough that they stop to find out what it was. If marking the behavior (with a clicker or voice mark) is well timed, then the puppy got rewarded for stopping. Next, the time between the clap and a marker (following silence of course) gets increased bit by bit.

DSC_6001I grabbed the camera when someone was walking the street and I knew the pups would be alerting me but I was able to snap this shot only. Too bad I don’t have a photo of the puppy looking at me waiting for the reward after clapping. It’s a little difficult to clap and take photos. Here Banzo stopped barking and is now silently watching a passerby. Good boy, Banzo!


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2 Responses to Can You Teach a Puppy To Avoid Future Conflicts? You Bet!

  1. bea says:

    Again very nice to read..The puppies look awsome.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Katy says:

    I LOVE your last one about the alert barking – with my Shelties that can also be a huge issue. Thanks for the idea!

    Liked by 1 person

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