• Liza Marie Moon

Not just a "bag of tricks"... Offering puppies an Education

How much fun is it to meet a puppy for the first time in a public setting?

You walk past a puppy who is tethered to his owners who are trying to eat their lunch at a dog-friendly restaurant. The puppy lunges toward you, possibly jumping on you, barking, licking, or whining in an attempt to get your attention.

The puppy's owners are probably just as annoyed as you now are. They're embarrassed at their puppy's rude behavior, and their lunch has been interrupted for the 10th time because of something as simple as a person walking past them.

We believe that a "Good Puppy" is confident, composed, and obedient. We know that "Good Puppies" are fun to be around, and are even more fun to share with others.

If you want to pay a trainer to teach your dog a whole bunch of cute tricks, go for it! That is not what we have to offer. Your puppy will learn a select few formal obedience commands here with us. You will not get a "book" with 100 different commands that your puppy "knows." You puppy will simply have been integrated into a normal household routine with boundaries, expectations, and love. That is what we feel will give puppies the highest chance of success.

Any dog can learn new tricks. But shaping behaviors early in life to form lifelong habits is what our ultimate goal is with our Retriever JumpStart Program.

Shaping Behaviors

This is the basis of our program. We want to offer puppies an Education in being "good."

A "Good Puppy" is...

  • A puppy that respects leadership and authority, and as a result has good manners

  • A puppy that thoroughly knows basic obedience commands that are useful in everyday life

  • A puppy that understands his boundaries and expectations around humans

  • A puppy that is easy to travel with and enjoy in public

  • A puppy that has received species appropriate love and respect

These are the foundation elements of our Retriever JumpStart Program "curriculum."

Keeping it "Real"

Our training is integrated into daily life. We have a few concentrated training sessions per week during your puppy's 2 or 4-week stay, but most training is done by simply integrating the puppy into our daily routine.

"Formal," concentrated training sessions take place 3-4 times a week and last approximately 15 minutes. That's it! They are done at meal times using kibble. These sessions are used to teach brand new behaviors that require specific verbal commands such as sit, wait, down, and stay.

These concentrated sessions are typically high energy and slightly stressful on the puppy. Stress isn't always bad. And small amounts of stress are healthy for a puppy's growing immune system. Stress signals the body to produce adrenaline, and stress can be the result of a positive interaction. However, we do not believe it is healthy for the puppy to receive these focused, concentrated sessions every single day of the week.

Daily training is simply getting puppies into a routine that provides boundaries and expectations in their day to day lives. These routines, such as meal times, playtimes, field trips, etc. create opportunities for us to incorporate training organically. Again, we do not believe in bribing our puppies to behave. We know that with proper guidance and communication, our puppies will very naturally understand our expectations.

Example 1: Waiting at the door or gate. Puppies are taught early on, without the use of treats, to wait when a gate or door is opened. They learn quickly that their reward is to get to go through the door or gate to get to the other side where we are.

Example 2: Waiting to eat. Puppies eat two regular meals a day, with snacks in between depending on the activities that day. When formal training begins we teach puppies to sit and wait for their food. We place their food on the ground and they are expected to stay away from it until we direct them to begin eating. Again, the reward is organic (because of course they're going to be fed two meals a day no matter what). Puppies learn quickly that they have to be respectful and patient during meal times in order to be allowed to eat.

Example 3: Tether training. We firmly believe that tether training is a crucial part of puppy training. We believe that tether training sets your puppy up for the absolute highest level of ultimate success in training and socialization. Tether training is the practice of keeping your puppy on a leash at all times unless he is in a crate or in an x-pen. On a leash, you will eliminate chances of potty accidents and/or your puppy chewing on something he isn't supposed to. You will set the foundation for recall training (come), because when you call your puppy, you can reinforce their recall with a tug on the leash. Our puppies learn very quickly to be extremely comfortable on a leash or long line at all times. They understand that if we are busy, they are to lie down quietly.

These are just a few examples where we feel training opportunities arise very organically. Puppies don't need to be "bribed" to have good manners and respect boundaries. It is in their pack nature to want to please their leader.

We do not want to produce treat-dependent puppies. We would like our puppies to respect rules and leadership because it is second nature to them as dogs (pack animals).

A Day in the Life

We begin our days around 7am. We are not super early risers here if we don't have to be!

Puppies begin sleeping in crates overnight when their extended stay begins. They are brought out of their crates and into the yard immediately to potty. Depending on their stage of training, sometimes we will bring them into bed to cuddle and chew on a bone while we drink coffee. Younger puppies need to eat breakfast right away and have a brief playtime.

Daytime routines vary day to day. Puppies under the age of 6 months sleep A LOT. So we work around their napping. A tired puppy is not fun to work with, and is not going to absorb information.

Daytime activities, depending on the puppy's age and training level, could include:

  • Field trips! (scroll down for more info on our "field trips")

  • Concentrated training

  • Individual playtimes with us (no other pups or dogs)

  • Short car rides

  • Leash walking on the farm to check the mail, etc.

  • Supervised time loose in the house

  • Brief nap time on the couch with us

Remember, our concentrated training sessions are very short, and only take place 4 times a week. During these sessions we teach obedience commands and leash walking. Here is a list of the obedience commands that we focus on during your puppy's extended stay:

  • Sit (2-Week and 4-Week)

  • Down (2-Week and 4-Week)

  • Wait (2-Week and 4-Week)

  • Kennel (2-Week and 4-Week)

  • Stay (4-Week)

  • Come/Recall (4-Week)

  • Place (4-Week)

The obedience training that we offer puppies is very basic. Young puppies should not expected to perform a long list of commands. It is much more important for them to be well adjusted, socialized, and have good manners. Obedience commands are used to help us communicate what we want from a puppy, but many "commands" are quite useless during day to day activities. We stick with the basics!

Training starts to get fun when pups are ready for field trips. After puppies have received their third round of vaccinations (view our Vaccination Schedule here) at approximately 10 weeks of age, we begin taking them on controlled field trips to areas we feel comfortable with.

During field trips we are careful with what and where your puppies paws and nose come into contact with. We do not allow them to interact with any other animals, and we do not allow people to touch them.

Field trips are a HUGE part of our training program. We feel this is what sets us apart.

Puppies are much more enjoyable when they are well-behaved in public and easy to travel with.

We take field trips so that we can train organically in new environments. We feel a puppy is ready for field trips when he can walk on a loose leash, sit on command, and is fully crate trained.

Puppies ride in crates when traveling by car. This is the safest place for them to be while inside a moving vehicle. They ride with their Snuggle Puppy and something yummy to chew on.

Never let a puppy roam freely in a moving vehicle.

We do not believe that "dog seatbelts" offer the same level of protection as a closed and secured crate or kennel. Your puppy will learn how to ride quietly in a kennel in the back of the vehicle.

We expect exceptional behavior from our puppies at all times, and so we have an intense desire to be very fair to our puppies.

When we expect very young puppies to be calm and quiet, we make sure that they have something to chew on, and have access to fresh water. Depending on the environment, we also make sure to have something for them to lie on, and somewhere for them to go potty. We travel with a backpack, packed similarly to a diaper bag for human kids!

Very young puppies should not be expected to behave calmly or quietly without proper stimulation, such as something to chew on.

If you don't use it, you lose it!

We highly recommend registering for Online Puppy Training School as soon as your puppy begins his extended stay with us. This is very important: If you do not continue training your puppy after you bring him home and working on the commands and skills that your puppy learns with us, he will forget everything he learned. And he will forget it very quickly.

We are not producing robots! We are working with living creatures who have minds of their own. Our extended stay training programs offer a foundation in which you need to build on. Our programs offer a Jump Start in training!

We never make any guarantees when it comes to training.

Every puppy learns differently and at it's own pace. We do not push puppies beyond what we feel is appropriate in order to meet deadlines or specific goals.

What are your goals with your puppy's training?

We are so blessed to be able to offer very individualized training for your puppy. If you have specific future goals in mind for your puppy, it is important that we discuss these prior to your puppy's extended stay starting. We will do our best to accommodate any special training requests!

Training is available exclusively for Rebecca Creek Retrievers puppies.

We take puppy rearing very seriously. We do not currently have the facilities to safely train puppies and dogs that have not come from our own litters. Biosecurity is extremely important when rearing young puppies. We are raising puppies inside our home and so we do not have the biosecurity measures to be bringing in outside puppies and dogs that are not "ours." Therefore, we are currently offering training services exclusively to families who purchase a puppy from us.

Please do not ask--we cannot make exceptions for the safety of our puppies. Training is available exclusively to Rebecca Creek Retrievers puppies.

Please feel free to contact us at any time with questions regarding this article! We are happy to help.

Happy trails and wagging tails,

Liza Marie Moon

Rebecca Creek Retrievers

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