Eight tips to encourage spontaneity and avoid overtraining.
The temptation to take your promising new puppy to every handling class, sanction match and point show in the state is understandable…but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea! In fact, it’s a terrible idea. Is there any sadder sight than a lovely puppy that’s had all the spontaneity trained out of him, stacking grimly, and plodding around the ring, tail tucked between his legs? How ironic that owners, in their zeal to socialize a puppy early and expose it to all the activities they plan to pursue, often do more harm than good.
1. Always leave a puppy wanting more, ending sessions on an enthusiastic and confident note. Incorporate training into daily activity. If yours is a table breed, pop the puppy on a grooming table to clip its nails, and feed it the occasional meal on a table, standing by to keep him safe, of course. Place him on the table often enough each day that the experience becomes second nature to him, and any apprehension he might have had initially is forgotten.
2. If you’re fixing your own dinner and he’s hanging out with you in the kitchen, curious about what you’re taking out of the fridge and pantry, free-bait him for a piece of apple or lettuce. Later, do it again for a piece of kibble while you’re watching TV. Soon you’ll find that a hammy puppy will free-bait for you just to show off, even when there’s no food in sight. Praise him lavishly for being so clever and intuitive.
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