It’s hard to believe but the pups are just shy of 4 weeks old now. I have loved seeing all the photos and videos Cathy has posted on her Facebook page of the pups growing up. It is really starting to sink in how quickly the new puppy will be coming home, yikes!
So, it is time to brush up on my puppy education!
I’ve re-read Dr. Ian Dunbar’s Before & After You Get Your Puppy, and Patricia McConnell’s The Puppy Primer. I plan on re-reading Dr. Sophia Yin’s Perfect Puppy in 7 Days this weekend. I have re-read my Curly books numerous times over the last few months, but will look through them again as well; Gary & Mary Meeks’ Curly-Coated Retrievers: A Complete and Reliable Handbook, and Nona Kilgore Bauer’s Curly-Coated Retriever. I’ve also been following along with Cathy Lewandowski’s The Puppy Diary as she has been posting photos, so I can better understand where the puppies are developmentally and what she is doing raising them at this point in their socialization. I find it interesting to compare the litter in the book to where this litter is.
When I was first looking at having a puppy join our crew, I set up a consult with Jade Zwingli owner of Where’s Your Sit? dog training. She has helped me tremendously with Tess and has been a great source of information to me. I wanted her objective opinion on how she thought it would work with Tess’s issues and my training capabilities. I wasn’t too worried about the “how to” puppy training basics as I’ve been through it with Tess and am fairly comfortable with what is coming up (I say this now!). But having a multi-dog household is new to me and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had no idea what in our routine would have to change, how to train two dogs in the house, what I could do to get the dogs comfortable together, how to best manage feeding time, and many other silly questions – like whether they would both fit in the back seat of my car! Having this session definitely put my mind at ease and gave me the confidence that I could do it. I’ve also been re-reading some of Jade’s blog posts about her pup Story who she added to her pack last fall, and some of the tips and suggestions she has posted on her website. If you are a novice dog owner (or new to having a multi-dog household) I would absolutely recommend a session like this before getting the puppy. Jade was able to give me plenty of management ideas, and suggestions on how to best set me up for success introducing our new member of the family.
I’ve also picked up a few new resources that I’ve stumbled across after Tess was a puppy, Jane Killion’s Puppy Culture and Attention is the Mother of All Behaviors. I started looking at the Attention video for some different pointers and drills that might help with agility for Tess, but also knowing how much I struggled with attention from her as a puppy I thought it would be a good idea to start teaching this to the puppy in a more consistent way. I purchased the Attention video first, I enjoyed it so much I knew I had to get the Puppy Culture video too. I’ve been looking at the Puppy Culture video for some time but thought it would be geared more towards breeders and not quite what I was looking for; but I was completely wrong! What a fantastic video full of valuable information. It does spend a fair bit of time covering pregnancy, early puppy development and socialization; all of which I found interesting but would likely be of more interest to a breeder. However, she does spend a great deal of time talking about socialization during the first month puppy is home with his new family. I spent a fair bit of time coming up with a socialization plan (and some different ideas of places to take puppy) last year when I started down this path; but this video really drove home the importance of that first month in a way that really resonated with me more than any of the books I had read. It also gave me some new ideas for socialization exposure. I hope to have another blog post on my socialization plan this coming week, and will definitely be adding some ideas from this video.
I’ve also ordered Susan Garrett’s Crate Games video and look forward to watching that when it arrives. I can’t say I had much trouble with Tess when it came to crate training for the house, but I think this will give us an added boost in the puppy (and Tess’s) ease when it comes to benching in the agility & show environment. As well as some impulse control, which never hurts!
There are so many great books and resources available I have many others on my wish list, but unfortunately the book budget isn’t stretching any further at the moment. So we’ll do what we can and slowly add to the collection!
In addition to the puppy training homework I’ve been doing, I’ve also been working hard with Tess’s dog-dog reactivity. It has been an ongoing process for some time, but I have set up an appointment with a trainer for next week to give us a little feedback and suggestions for next steps. I also want to set up the puppy pen a head of time so I can work on Tess’s “leave it,” and so she can get used to having it in the house.
While there is always more to learn, I’m feeling pretty confident at this point that everything will be ok. There are bound to be hiccups and different problems with this new pup, but I have comfort that I have the information at my disposal and a great number of knowledgeable people on my team that I can call on for help down the road should I need it.