|RAISING THE STOCK DOG PUPPY
The number one question that has been asked, "what do I do with my puppy
until he’s ready to put on stock"? The puppy should NOT be left in a kennel
until he’s old enough to be put on livestock, which some think is usually
around a year old. A puppy will tell you what age he’s ready to be on stock.
The most important thing you can do with and for your puppy, is to BE WITH
HIM. Don’t ignore him, do things with him, play with him, pet him, teach him
things and be a good master. Despite the old wives tales, these things will not
ruin a stock dog.
There are lots of things a person can do with their new puppy before he is
mentally and physically ready to start formally on livestock. Puppies, like
children, are not born with the knowledge of knowing what to do, how to act
and what is permissible by a human. Good manners must be taught to the
To begin with, your puppy doesn't know the difference between good and bad
habits. He only does what instinct tells him to do. It is up to his new owner to
teach him what they consider good habits. Good habits will vary with each
owners idea of what they want their puppy to do. Things to teach your puppy
should include: housebreaking, leash training, learning to travel in a car,
being sociable with new people and manners. Other training would be for
herding stock or dog sports events, therapy or rescue to name a few. Basic
training is teaching him to come when called, sit, stay, down, off, and heel.
You can also housebreak and crate train him. You shouldn't do any heavy
duty obedience training until the puppy is about 6 months of age. Beginning
training sessions should be gentle, but firm. After all, puppies are babies
technically, until they are a year old. Go slow and don't cause your puppy to
hate being trained. Puppies are allowed to make mistakes. Try to name your
puppy a simple one or two syllable name. If his name to too complicated it
may take longer to train him to know it. His name is used to be an attention
getter. When you call his name it should make him stop and look at you for
"My dog keeps jumping up on me". This is probably the number one
complaint of many dog owners. This "jumping-up" behavior has been taught
to the puppy since he was very young. As the pup is growing, he is absolutely
the cutest thing alive ... and there is no way to avoid picking him up and
snuggling. There is nothing wrong with picking up your pup and loving on him.
Unfortunately, this also teaches him that EVERYTIME he puts his feet on you,
you are going to pick him up. Over and over, as he is maturing this "jumping-
up" behavior is repetitiously repeated. How is he supposed to know that there
is a magical age/height/weight when he is suddenly no longer allowed to
display this behavior? He doesn't. All he knows is that he's been able to "ask"
to be picked up, by jumping up on his owner, and getting what he wants. Now
suddenly, his owner is slapping him, kicking him, yelling at him, .... this does
nothing but confuse and make the dog fearful.
The ways we've helped to stop this behavior before it begins is to always sit
down (on the ground) and pet the puppies. Or, scoop the puppy into a sit,
wait a few seconds with his butt on the ground, then pick him up (from the sit).
The pup is not picked up when he is standing up on us and scratching on our
TEACHING THE "SIT" COMMAND
The is very easy to teach with a piece of food. Have your pup in front of you
and let him smell the food (this works better if he is hungry) hold it over his
head and start to move it past his head towards the shoulder area, as this is
done he will be forced to sit in order to keep his eye on the food. As soon as
his rump is on the floor, quickly give him the food and praise him. The next
time use the command sit so he will hear the command with the action of the
sit. You don't need to push his rump down or force him in any way. After he
has the idea, you can then practice with him to your left side and your right
side, facing the same direction as you are, so you can start the foundation
training of automatic sitting and heeling.
This command is useful because as soon as you even think the puppy is
going to jump-up on you, give him the "sit" command. Always, stressed -
ALWAYS, make training fun and positive. Remember to praise your puppy for
doing good. Do not swat or hit your puppy, because he simply is not born into
this world knowing good from bad, teaching manners is up to you. After he is
solid on his sit command, slowly start replacing the treat with praise, a back
rub or whatever he likes.
TEACHING A PUPPY HIS NAME
Say the puppy’s name to him often, smiling when he looks at you. If he won't
look at you, make a noise to get his attention. When he looks at you, say his
name and praise him. Always praise in a high pitched voice, as this means
"GOOD/FUN" in dog language. The tone of your voice is very important to
your training. As already mentioned a higher pitched voice is the same as
saying " PLAYTIME " to a dog. It excites them and makes them happy. A
monotone voice has a calming effect on a dog and settles them down. A low
voice is the same as a growl to a dog. So when the puppy has done
something you don't approve of, use a low voice. Also, the way you look at a
puppy or a dog either says "welcome or trouble" to them. When you are
happy with your puppy, look in his eyes with a happy look. When
disapproving, use a cold stare and don't break eye contact. Training your
puppy will be much simpler using "their" form of communication. Once the
language barrier is broken you won't have any trouble training your puppy.
TEACHING THE RECALL OR "COME" COMMAND
This is a very important command to teach your pup. It doesn't matter what
word you use as long as you use the same word to avoid confusion. You may
use come, here, or the working dog command of "that'll do".
Decide which word will be most comfortable to use. Call your puppy’s name to
get his attention, then every time you feed your puppy, use the recall
command (or if you choose, a whistle). We use a whistle command, starting
the first day the puppies start eating and continuing into adulthood. A whistle
recall has proven to work best for us. Make sure that you use the same word
or whistle every time. Stress this to other members of the family also, this is to
Another way to teach the recall command is to begin with your puppy fresh
and playful. He needs to have his collar and leash on (IF he is leash trained).
It is good to have a few treats at first. Start with saying your puppy's name in
a happy higher pitched voice and then the come command. If your puppy
comes to you, as he is coming to you back up quickly and then after a few
steps, stop quickly give him a treat and lots of praise. If your puppy doesn't
come, then reel him in gently and give the treat and praise, make this a fun
time. Keep repeating this exercise until your puppy understands what you
want him to do. Dogs learn by repetition. Always stop on a positive note and
don't over train a very young pup by training for more than five or ten minutes
< Never, ever, call a pup/dog to you to punish him, this will only cause
him to want to avoid you.>
TEACHING LEASH TRAINING
Starting a young pup on " leash training ". Most working dog trainers just
tie/chain the puppy up to get him used to the leash. This is very stressful for a
young pup and really not necessary. Any training session should be very
positive, fun and not stressful. You never want the puppy to be afraid of you
or the training session. You never want a puppy/dog dreading whatever you
are trying to teach him.
First you must get a flat buckle collar that fits your pup. It should be tight
enough not to slip over his head, but not so tight as to choke him. Now you
can use a 3 - 4 foot light rope or nylon leash and attach it to the collar. Simply
allow the pup to get use to it by letting him drag it around for a day or two
under supervision. When the pup doesn't seem to pay attention to the leash,
then it is time to get him use to actually go with the leash and you. It is best
done when the pup is a bit hungry. Take hold of the leash and have some
food in your hand...hold the food just out in front of his nose and start walking
keeping the food just out in front so he will get the idea to go with you. You
can make kissing sounds as you are walking. Say the command" heel" so he
will be able to associate the action with the command. Make it fun and use
your higher pitched voice to encourage the pup to want to participate. There
will be times when he will sit back and throw a fit. Don't give in to these
tantrums. Just give him time and soon he will be going with you for a walk.
When he gets a bit older you can teach him the proper heel position, which is
on your left side with his shoulder in line with your leg. It is always good to
teach the heel on both sides of you, for the working dog. You shouldn't allow
a dog to pull you along and take you where he wants go. This puts him in
control and you should be the master over him. He will respect you more if
you stay in the ALPHA or place of authority over him. After he is solid on his
leash (not pulling or refusing), slowly start replacing the treat with praise, a
back rub or whatever he likes. Be sure and not reward him for throwing a
tantrum or pulling back. Only give him a treat or praise when he does what
you want him to do. Remember be POSITIVE!
TEACHING THE DOWN COMMAND
Training the " down or lie down " command. This really is very easy to teach,
there are many ways to teach it, but I believe this to be the best and quickest
way for the pup to learn without ever forcing him. It will be his idea and so he
will not be forced to learn. Anytime you can allow a pup to think for its self, the
pup will retain it better and not resent the training .
First, have the pup sit. Take a small piece of treat in your hand, close your
hand so the pup can't get to it. Let the pup smell it so he knows it is there.
Next, slowly bring your hand to the ground right in front of him. He should be
trying to get to the treat, in the process of him trying to get to the treat, his
body will start to come down just as if his was trying to get something from
under a couch or low ledge. While he’s trying to get the treat, tell him the
command "down or lie down", which ever one you wish to use. When he lays
down all the way, give him the treat. Now, if he just won't lie down this way,
then you sit on the ground and put your knees up so there is a tunnel. Put
him on one side of you and then on the other side you would have the treat.
He needs to be coaxed through the tunnel and in the process of trying to
creep under, his body goes in the down position. This way he will not be able
to cheat. It is amazing how fast a pup will learn this. Repeat often and use lots
of praise to encourage him. This command is also very useful in a dog that
likes to jump-up on someone. When you see that he is fixing to jump-up, give
him the down command. After he is solid on his down, slowly start replacing
the treat with praise, a back rub or whatever he likes.
|Don't give in to tantrums. Be
patient! Don't jerk, yell or
otherwise intentionally hurt the
puppy, just be patient. Gentle,
but firm, get him on his feet and
continue with his training.
|Don't be surprised if he tries
the "alligator roll". Again,
be patient and gently, but
firmly get him on his feet
and continue with your
|"Doc" was walking on the leash
in about 15 minutes. His training
needs to continue everyday until
walking on a leash becomes
second nature for him.
|My Puppy is Chewing!
Puppies chew, it’s a fact. There are many reasons why they chew. They chew to exercise their jaws; when in pain
(like during teething); to alleviate boredom; when playing; when exploring new things; when excited, etc...
There are ways to deal with their chewing. Please do NOT slap your puppy in the face when you catch him/her
chewing. This will only cause your puppy to be fearful of you. Puppies are not born with the knowledge of knowing
what they can chew on and what they can’t. It’s up to you to teach him (in a loving, non-harmful, way) what is
acceptable behavior and what is not. When you catch your puppy chewing on something, redirect him to something
else; like a chew bone or play with him.
So many times I’ve heard, "my puppy chewed up my new shoes or backpack". A sure way to keep a puppy from
chewing on things, is to put those items out of reach. If this is not possible, when you catch your puppy carrying
something off to be chewed on, in a real happy voice tell him what a good boy he is for bringing you the shoe (or
whatever he has in his mouth), walk to him and lavish him with praise and take the object. Now some may ask, why
reward a puppy for doing wrong! Sometimes, it’s better to teach him to bring you the item he’s tempted to chew on,
therefore; you can keep him from destroying your stuff. If he thinks that every time he picks up something you are
going to smack him and yell at him, he’ll steal it and hide some where to chew. If he thinks that every time he picks up
something, you are going to love on him, praise him and be happy, he’ll bring you the item every time, thus; you can
avoid it being chewed to pieces. This also has a down side, once he learns this action makes you happy, he’ll bring
you stuff just for the attention. This method seems to work the best, at least for us it does.
Every puppy is an individual, so what works on one pup will not work on another. If the above doesn’t seem to be
working after many times of repetitious teaching, there are other things you can try. Whenever you catch your pup
chewing, take the object away and replace it with something he can chew on. Always, give a command when you do
any action. For example: when you take the object that he isn’t supposed to be chewing on, say to him in a sharp,
firm, low voice "off!"(or whatever command you can remember), then hand him the object he can chew on and when
he takes it, praise him and tell him he’s good.
It is important that every member in the family use the same method and same commands. Repetition is essential
and patience is paramount to anything else.
My Puppy is Nipping My Heels!
If you have a herding bred puppy, this is an inherited trait. You can’t change his genetics, but you can teach him
when this action is acceptable behavior and when it’s not.
There are several training methods to use to curb the heel nipping. Please do not kick the puppy when he’s nipping
at your pants, shoes, or heels. This will only make the puppy fearful of you.
Herding bred dogs are bred to be keen on movement, or have a high prey drive. When something moves, the dog’s
"prey drive" kicks in and he either chases it, stalks it, tries to stop it by getting in front, or tries to stop it by grabbing
at the heel.
Puppies don’t just play to be playing. Play time is used to teach them many things. It teaches them to find prey (their
sibling), stalk their prey, catch their prey, take down their prey, and go in for the kill. This is one reason (there are
others, too) why it’s important to leave the puppies with their mother until they are at least 8 weeks old, preferably a
few weeks older. The mother also engages in "play" with her pups. She teaches them social graces, how to
effectively stalk their prey (lizards, bugs, siblings, and anything else that will move), how to capture their prey and
take it down.
Personally, I would never fuss at a puppy for "heeling" me or anything else. This is an inherited trait that is valuable
to a herding dog. I would first praise him for heeling his siblings, or any non-human, because I do not want him to be
afraid to do what is natural. Then, I would redirect his attention and actions. One method that I use to redirect a pup
is to first teach him the "off" command. It’s a very simple command to teach and one that is used in and for many
situations. The "off" command can be used later, when he starts his herding career. Some handlers use other
commands, I use "off" when I want the dog to come off the livestock, the cat, the children, the couch, the counter,
How I teach the "off" command is to get a yummy treat that the puppy likes and when I have his attention, I offer him
the treat by holding my hand down (telling him "take it") and allowing him to walk up to my hand (I don’t hand him the
treat, I let him take it from me without moving my hand). I praise him for taking the treat. After giving him two or three
treats (and using the "take it" command), the next treat (without moving my hand) I hold down (do not give the "take
it" command) and as he starts to take it, I gently bump his nose and say, "off". If he continues to try to take the treat, I
keep bumping his nose and telling him, "off". The second he stops trying to get the treat, I praise him and tell him,
"okay, take it" (and let him take the treat, I do not move my hand toward him, I let him come and take it). Periodically,
during the day, I repeat this same session until he understands the "off" command. As soon as he understand the
"off" command, I use it for other actions that is not acceptable. For instance, when he nips at my heels or pants. I tell
him, "off". The second he quits, praise him for stopping and tell him he’s a good boy. If he doesn’t mind you, then he
isn’t understanding the "off" command. I would have another session using the nose bump method. Don’t bump his
nose hard, just firm enough to get his attention.
Another thing that works is when the puppy nips your heels or back of your pant leg, is to slap your leg (just to make
a noise) at the same time while in a low, growly, voice say, "aaaiiitttt"!
Remember, repetition is essential and patience is paramount to anything else.
My Puppy Gets in Front of Me and Stops!
You can expect a herding bred dog that is keen to want to stop movement (stop livestock from getting away) to get in
front of you, while you are walking, and stop. The puppy is trying to stop you. He is just doing what his inherited trait
is telling him to do ... stop movement. I personally, would never fuss at a puppy for doing this. I would praise him for
"heading", then, I would redirect his behavior. One thing you can do, is to teach him to "heel" or "go behind".
If you yell, kick, hit a puppy for doing something that is an inherited trait, it will grow up and be fearful of repeating
this action when it’s really needed and wanted. For example: if you yell and holler at a puppy for herding the cat, he’s
going to think that "this" action makes you unhappy and when he’s older, he may be reluctant to do what should be
natural ... herd. This is what I think makes a dog "sticky". A "sticky" dog is one that focuses on one animal and just
stares. He doesn't move, just freezes in place. Some say it’s a dog with too much "eye", or a dog that was allowed to
lay around and watch livestock when he was a puppy, maybe so in the Border Collie breed, I’ve not seen this with my
Kelpies. What I have see, is a sticky dog that the owner admitted to yelling at for herding the cat or getting in the pen
to herd the sheep when he was a puppy. Now as an adult, he’s unsure if the same behavior that got him in big
trouble as a puppy isn’t going to get him in trouble now.
I would never fuss at a puppy for doing what should be natural or doing what his genetics are screaming at him to
do, I’d just redirect his behavior (take his mind off what he’s doing, so you can walk without tripping over him or
having your pant legs tore up).
How I teach a puppy to "go behind" is to either use a treat or a toy. Whichever works better for the individual puppy
is the one that I use.
If the puppy likes a certain toy, when he’s getting in front of me, I show him the toy and tell him to "go behind" and
lead him around behind by him following the toy. As soon as he’s behind or to my side, I praise him for doing good
and give him the toy.
If a puppy likes a treat better, I use a treat. The action is the same using a treat as it is for using a toy.
A rag tied to the end of a stick works, too. Wiggle the rag to get him interested, give him the command and just lead
him around to your side or behind you and let him pull on the rag as a reward.
When using the treat method, start out using a treat until he understands the command. Then remember to alternate
between using a treat and praise. This way, the puppy never knows if he’ll be getting a treat and it keeps him from
expecting one every time.
Repetition and patience just can’t be stressed enough. If you find yourself getting aggravated at the puppy for
whatever reason, stop the training session and have a glass of tea. Never take your frustrations out on the puppy.
You never want your puppy afraid of you. You want respect and love, not fear!
DIFFERENT GROWTH STAGES:
Puppies experience different growth stages throughout their life. They are constantly looking to explore and learn
about "their" world. The information below is a guideline of stages puppies go through regardless of breed. I hope
this information benefits someone in raising a better pup. It really does make a difference if you understand these
stages and learn to deal with them correctly. If not, you could imprint fears on your puppy that could never be
changed as the puppy matures.
Birth to Seven weeks ( 0 - 49 days )
Socialization Period ( 7 - 12 weeks )
Fear Imprint Period ( 8 - 11 weeks )
Seniority Classification Period ( 12 - 16 weeks )
Flight Instinct Period ( 4 - 8 months )
Second Fear Imprint Period ( 6 - 14 months )
Maturity ( 1 - 4 years )
*This article is Thanks to:
Sue St. Gelais
Hundmeister Reg'd Dobermans
(My comments are in blue)
Puppy-hood and Beyond Puppies are growing animals. When they are young, they learn much and what is learned
has a lasting impact. Even sexual patterns, which emerge as puppies mature, can be affected by early experience.
All dogs, regardless of breed, pass through various stages as they grow and develop, physically, mentally, and
psychologically. Psychologists use the term critical period to describe a specific time in a dog's life when certain
experiences have a lasting effect upon their psychological development. Understanding these critical periods and a
dog's stages of development will better help you to understand your dog's behavior and how to handle him during
these special times. Additionally, puppies benefit greatly when their owners understand their development.
Puppy Toddlers (3 - 6 Weeks)
During the Toddler period, puppies emerge on their own from the litter. They venture into the surrounding
environment. This emergence from the litter is a gradual and continual learning experience. During this stage of
development puppies learn basic behavioral patterns specific to dogs. While playing, they practice different body
postures, learning what the postures mean and how they affect their mother and litter mates. They learn what it is
like to bite and be bitten, what barking and other vocalizations mean and how to make and use them to establish
social relationships with other dogs. Such learning and activity tempers their own biting and vocalizing. From the age
of five weeks, the mother teaches her puppies basic manners. They learn to be submissive to her leadership and
what behaviors are acceptable. If necessary, she growls, snarls, or snaps at them as a form of discipline. When
weaning the litter, for instance, the mother will discipline her puppies so that they will leave her alone. Because the
mother disciplines them in a way that they clearly understand, after a few repetitions, the puppies will respond to a
mere glare from her. If a pup has not learned to accept leadership (and discipline) in its early interactions with dogs,
its training will be more difficult. Puppies that are removed from the nest too early tend to be nervous, more prone to
barking and biting, and less responsive to discipline. Often they are aggressive with other dogs. Generally speaking,
a puppy taken away from it's mother and litter mates before seven weeks of age, may not realize its full potential as a
dog and companion. To maximize the mental and psychological development of puppies, they must remain in the
nest with their mother and litter mates until seven weeks of age. [**At three weeks of age, we start feeding our
puppies. This is the time we start using a whistle to teach a recall to the puppies. Every time I feed them, I whistle and
bang their stainless steel pan. They learn to come when I whistle and that loud noises mean something good is fixing
Socialization Period (7 - 12 Weeks)
It is at this age that rapid learning occurs. At seven weeks, puppies can learn and what they learn will have a lasting
impact. Everything he comes in contact with will make a lasting impression upon him as it never will again. Not only
will he learn, but, he will learn whether he is taught or not. Though he has a short attention span, what things he
learns are learned permanently and resistant to change. Therefore, owners need to be careful about what their
puppies are learning at this time. Your puppy is very anxious to learn how you want him to behave and react, and he
needs to be shown what is expected of him in his new role as your pet. [**This is a critical time in the puppy’s life. You
can take the puppy with you around livestock, but it is paramount that you do not let the puppy get hurt or
frightened. It could be devastating to him at this age. He is wanting to learn, just take extreme care and make sure he
is always safe when he’s with you]. There are rules you will expect your puppy to obey. Establish those rules NOW
while behaviors are easy to establish. For instance, how your pet interacts with you is determined during puppy-
hood. What he does now is what he will likely do later. So, don't allow your puppy to do things which will be
unacceptable when he becomes a dog. During this time, you and your puppy will also begin to know and understand
each other. You will get to know about your puppy's particular temperament and personality - whether he is strong-
willed or eager to please, gentle or rambunctious, shy or outgoing, and just what else makes him the endearing
individual that he is. For the puppy, this is both an exciting and somewhat confusing time. There is a whole new world
of things to learn about and all sorts of new experiences to digest. Remember that the environments you put your
puppy in are more complex than those he would encounter naturally. Puppies must now learn a new set of rules. He
needs to know learn how to interact with humans and other animals who live with them. Puppies must adapt to the
patterns and tenor of their new homes. All of these experiences and the behaviors which accompany them, must be
learned. Because you will impose such important demands on your puppy, you must help him to make the transition
into the human environment. You need to lay a groundwork for a trusting, happy mutually satisfying relationship.
Keep in mind that puppies are less likely to broaden their experiences if they are insecure. In natural environments,
puppies approach new things cautiously. By giving your puppy brief, repeated experiences in new situations, you
give him a chance to become familiar. If you don't expose your puppy to a variety of situations and new
environments, inappropriate ways to adapt may be learned.
During the Socialization period, there is a fear imprint period from 8 - 11 weeks
During this time, any traumatic, painful or frightening experiences will have a more lasting impact on your pup than
they would if they occurred at any other time. An unpleasant trip to the veterinarian, for instance, at this time could
forever make your dog apprehensive about vets. To avoid this, take some treats and a toy with you. While you wait,
play with your puppy and offer him treats. Have your vet give your puppy treats along with lots of praise and petting
before and after the examination. Avoid elective surgeries, such as ear-cropping and hernia repair during this time.
In general, avoid stressful situations. Remember, dogs are social animals. To become acceptable companions, they
need to interact with you, your family, and other people and dogs during the Socialization Period. Dogs that are
denied socialization during this critical period often become unpredictable because they are fearful or aggressive. It
is during this time, that your dog needs to have positive experiences with people and dogs. Therefore, you need to
socialize and teach your puppy how to interact with people and other dogs in a positive, non-punitive manner. You
should gradually introduce your puppy to new things, environments, and people. But, care must be taken in
socializing your puppy with other dogs or in areas where many "unknown" dogs frequent, prior to the time that your
dog has had three of its booster vaccinations against contagious diseases. Shopping centers, parks, and
playgrounds are good places to expose him. [**I disagree with taking a puppy to places where other dogs may have
been because, the puppy is not immune to puppy-hood diseases at this point in his life. I would take him places on
the farm/ranch, in the pasture, around the pens, tractors and other equipment and livestock]. Begin by taking your
puppy when there are few distractions. Give him time to get used to new places. Make sure he is secure. If you have
children that visit only occasionally, have your puppy meet children as often as you can. If you live alone, make an
effort to have friends visit you, especially members of the opposite sex so that your dog will become accustomed to
them. If you plan on taking your dog to dog shows or using your dog in a breeding program, get him around other
dogs. If you plan to travel with your dog, get him accustomed to riding in the car. Take him for brief rides, at first. Go
someplace fun. Remember, if new experiences are overwhelming or negative, the results could be traumatic.
Seniority Classification Period (12-16 Weeks)
It is during this critical period that your dog will begin to test you to see who the pack leader is going to be. He'll begin
to bite you, in play or as a real challenge to your authority. Such behavior is natural in the pack and not necessarily
undesirable. What is undesirable is an inappropriate response on your part. It is important, at this stage, that you
establish your position as pack leader, and not just another sibling. Other behaviors, such as grabbing at the leash,
will be observed, and all are attempts to dominate you. Biting, in particular though, should always be discouraged.
[**Personally, I would not discourage nipping. I would simply teach him, while using a toy or a piece of rope, a "take
hold" command and a "release" command. Gripping (biting) will be needed later in his development while working
livestock]. Therefore, you should not wrestle or play tug of war. Such play is aggressive-inducing. What you see as a
fun game may be perceived by your dog as a situation in which he has been allowed to dominate. Wrestling, of
course, communicates to your puppy that he is allowed to bite you. Tug of war sets you up in a dominance
confrontation over an object. He learns that he can keep objects away from you. During tug of war games, puppies
will often growl. Growling is a dominance vocalization, designed to warn another pack member that they better not
confront the growler or he will bite. Puppies see these games as situations in which they have been allowed to
dominate. They do not understand that these are games designed by humans to entertain them. You can continue
to play with your dog during this period, but, the relationship between you during the play must change. No mouthing
of your body should be allowed and when your dog does mouth, you should respond with a quick and sharp "NO!" or
"No Bite!" Play that does not get rough is best. If you cannot keep the dog from getting overly excited during a game
and he persists in biting at you, don't play that way. This will only stimulate additional dominant behavior in the
future. For these reasons, this is the stage when serious training should begin. Training establishes your pack
leadership in a manner that your puppy will understand. By training your puppy, you will learn how to get him to
respond to commands designed to show that you are in charge.
Flight Instinct Period (4 - 8 Months)
This is the age when puppies become more independent of their owners and are likely to venture off on their own.
Puppies that have always come when called or stayed close to their owners will now ignore them, often running in the
opposite direction. [**This is also the time when a puppy with strong desire will start to want to work stock on his own.
It’s not advisable to allow a puppy to work when he wants too, this teaches him he doesn’t have to listen to you]. This
period can last from several weeks to months. How you handle your puppy's refusal to come or stay with you will
determine whether or not he will be trustworthy off leash. It is important to emphasize here that no puppy this young
should ever be off leash except in a confinement area. Therefore, keep your puppy on leash when this period arises
and keep him on leash until he readily returns to you or shows no inclination to leave you. The privilege of being off
leash outside of a confined area, is reserved for dogs whose owners have trained them to the point where there is
no potential for them to run and fail to obey to stop or come on command. Releasing an unleashed dog in an
unconfined area that is not well trained off leash is irresponsible ownership and dangerous to your dog. Even well
trained dogs can make mistakes or become distracted by something in the environment so that they do not respond
to their owners' commands. So, how do you respond when your puppy suddenly develops the urge to bolt? First, you
must, for his safety, put a leash or a long line on your dog whenever you are not in a confined area. Second, work
hard on training your puppy to come on command. Use the recall game and the spontaneous recall. When walking
your dog, suddenly run backwards and encourage your puppy to come. If your dog still continues to bolt or run
away, then your dog probably does not view you as the dominant figure in this relationship and you require special
help to resolve this problem. Even if the your puppy appears less inclined to bolt, this does not mean that he is
reliable off lead without more maturity and a lot more training.
Adolescence Period (5 - 18 months)
Adolescence can appear in smaller dogs as early as five months. In larger breeds, it can start as late as nine or ten
months. In giant breeds, adolescence doesn't take place until twelve to eighteen months. In general, the larger the
dog, the longer it will take to physically mature. Some breeds can remain adolescents until they are two and a half, or
three years old. Adolescence is expressed in male dogs by scent marking behavior. Scent marking behavior is
stimulated by the release of testosterone into the dog's system. At this time, males may become macho. Male dogs
may become less friendly and even somewhat aggressive to other male dogs. He may begin lifting his leg in the
house. He may become very interested in girls, tend to roam, and certainly not interested in listening to you! Some
males at this age become totally unruly. In females, adolescence is marked by the onset of the heat cycle, estrus.
During this three week period, your bitch could become pregnant. So, keep her away from all male dogs. Bitches
exhibit erratic behavior during estrus. Some get real moody and insecure. Others become quite bold or even
aggressive. Adolescence is a very difficult time for pet owners. They are surprised when their cute little puppy
becomes a free and independent thinker. Adolescence is certainly a good time to start (or re-institute) rigorous
training. You must work hard NOW to mold the dog of your dreams. This course will teach you training methods
which are based on sound knowledge of dog behavior. You will gain knowledge about dog behavior and training
techniques. This knowledge will help you to get through your dog's adolescence. A dog that you view as too stupid,
too old or stubborn or too spiteful can become a well mannered, enjoyable, and reliable companion. Establish
yourself as the leader of the pack. Be realistic about your expectations. You cannot expect young dogs to grow up
overnight. Learn to appreciate your dog's adolescence for it is a truly wonderful time. At this time of their lives, dogs
are very energetic and exuberant in their responses. They can be full of beans, but still, delightful playmates. You as
the owner must learn to channel that energy and exuberance into learning, working, exercising, and playing games.
It is not too late to train (or retrain) your dog to help him to become a long-lasting companion.
Second Fear Imprint Period (6 - 14 Months)
The Second Fear Imprint Period is similar to the one that occurred during the socialization period, but, it is much less
defined. It occurs as dogs enter adolescence and seems more common in males. It is often referred to as adolescent
shyness. Your dog may suddenly become reluctant to approach something new or suddenly become afraid of
something familiar. [**Sometimes this is the time that a dog will ‘turn-off’ of stock. Be patient, do not scold, hit or
stomp at the dog for this behavior. This phase will pass]! This behavior can be very frustrating to the owner and
difficult to understand because its onset is so sudden and, seemingly, unprovoked. If you notice this behavior, it is
important to avoid the two extremes in response: Don't force him to do or approach something frightening to him and
don't coddle or baby him. To get through situations that make your dog fearful, be patient, kind, and understanding.
Desensitize him to the object or situation by gradually introducing him to it and using food rewards and praise to
entice him to confront the fearful object or situation. Do not coddle or reassure him in any way that will encourage his
fearful behavior. Do not correct him either. Simply make light of it and encourage him give him food rewards as he
begins to deal with his fear better. Make sure you lavishly praise his attempts! This phase will pass.
Mature Adulthood (1 - 4 Years)
During this period your dog may again become aggressive and assertive. [**Most working dogs really start to work
nicely at this age]. For instance, he may become more turf-protective, by barking when someone comes to the door.
Temper his protective behaviors by teaching him how to accept strangers into your home. His friendly play with other
dogs may escalate to fighting with other dogs. Teach you dog to ignore other dogs that he sees if he can't be
friendly towards them. Take him to places where there will be a few dogs at first and train him there. Then, train him
in areas with more and more dogs. Next, allow him to interact with non threatening dogs. Puppies and bitches are
good choices, if he is a male. Always praise his positive efforts to interact or if he displays no reaction. Gradually
move onto male dogs. At bit of caution here, adult members of the same sex, no matter what animals species, tend
to compete with one another. Putting together two strange adults of the same sex could result in a fight. Watch for
behavioral signs of playfulness before allowing two dogs to play together. Also, be alert to the posturing of
aggressive behaviors. Watch for circling behaviors, walking on toes, stiff tail wags, and tense facial expressions.
Adulthood is also a time that your dog may again test your position as pack leader. If he does, handle him firmly,
suspend any rough play that may be giving him the idea that he can dominate you, and continue with training.
Additional classes or private help with training may be a wise investment. It can provide you with the structure and
commitment to train him that you need at this time. Proceed with training in a matter-of-fact, no nonsense manner
and your dog will become a reasonably obedient dog. Give him lots of positive attention for his efforts!
This has been a cursory look at some of the behavioral changes that often occur during puppy-hood, adolescence,
and early adulthood. Other problems may arise at these stages which are not the result of the developmental period
itself, but are caused by something in the environment or the dog's basic personality. Even so, they are probably
aggravated by immaturity and you cannot afford to overlook them. Understanding, training, and perhaps
professional help with training are the keys to success. All dogs are different. Some will not exhibit the behaviors we
have discussed and others will pass through them at varying rates with smaller dogs maturing faster than large dogs.
Remember that your dog needs you to play a role in his development and you can do that with knowledge and
commitment to training. Learning plays a significant role in a dog's development. Through training, you actively take
part in that process. This course has been carefully designed with the capacities of developing dogs in mind.
Throughout the course, you and your dog will be observed. You will be advised if your dog exhibits behaviors which
may be warning signs of potential problems. We will teach you exercises which will help your dog to be a good
companion. The exercises your dog or puppy will learn should not tax him. Learning can be fun and each dog can
achieve success. ~~ Sue St. Gelais
I disagree with keeping a puppy isolated and totally away from livestock. My pups are around livestock from the time
they are born. I don't mean, they are physically out in the pasture or pen with the stock. I mean, from the time their
eyes and ears are open and they can toddle out of the whelping box, they are subjected to livestock sounds and
smells. As they get older, they are taught to follow me by taking them on daily walks. As I feed them, I whistle
whatever recall tune I'll be using to get them to come back to me, plus I say, "here". As soon as they are used to the
whistle, I start banging their stainless steel feed pan making noise, then the whistle and then put their food down.
This gets them used to loud noises and they associate loud noises with favorable things.
Every pup goes through a "fear period" around 8 to 12 weeks of age. Care should be taken during this time to not
traumatize the puppy. It is not advisable to cottle or baby the puppy, just act like nothing is wrong and go about daily
chores and business.
After this phase is over, the puppies that will remain with us -- I start taking the puppy with me to do the chores. I
stress that extreme care should be taken to prevent the puppy from being injured during this time. Every thing I do
is a learning period for the puppy. The entire time the puppy is with me, I am talking to him. I tell him what we are
doing and where we are going. For example, I tell him we are going "in the gate", to the "pen", to the "pasture", "look
for the sheep/cattle/goats", etc... If I'm walking down the alley way, I'll say, "alley way". If I'm going around the stock, I
will say the proper flank command the entire time I'm walking around the stock. When I stop, I say, "stop". Some may
cringe and say that is not a good practice because it's confusing the puppy. This method has worked for me and
makes "starting" the dog a lot easier. By the time, he's mentally ready to work stock, it's just a matter of letting him
work. He knows his commands. When he's ready, I send him to the stock and let him make decisions and work
problems out. I let him use his natural ability and instinct. Personally, I don't want a dog that I have to tell where or
when to put each foot. I want a dog to be able to think on his own, see a situation and act accordingly.
If you are not familiar with livestock behavior, then it will be hard for you to properly work your dog on livestock.
Livestock have flight and comfort zones. There is always at least on animal in the flock or herd that is the leader.
Some dogs are smart enough to know, that if they move the leader, the rest will follow. It will make it easier for you to
handle your dog if you become acquainted with the way livestock think and act when a dog and/or human is present.
By the time your, now adolescent, dog is ready to start working livestock, he should know his name, have an
excellent recall, a great down or stop, be able to accept pressure from both the livestock and his handler,
understand his commands and be mentally confident for his career ahead. Unfortunately, for some dogs, this is the
first time they've seen livestock.
If this is the first time your young dog has seen livestock, make sure the livestock you will be using is dog gentle. It's
better to have the stock in a small area, so that you can control the situation and keep everything at a slow pace.
You want to make your dog think that he has control. If he thinks he's lost control, he may start chasing or gripping.
Sometimes, it's best to keep your dog on a long rope until he gets used to the stock. Walk him slowing around the
livestock. If he charges in, bites and retreats -- he is lacking in confidence. Take the pressure off of him by putting
more room between him and stock. **NOTE: when teaching him his flank commands, you should be between him
and the stock. The first session, you should just get him used to the stock. Usually, 15 to 20 minutes in the early
part of his training is all he needs. Remember to always be patient with him.
Some dogs are right handed and some are left handed (meaning they prefer a certain side over the other). Don't be
surprised if your dog prefers to travel clockwise over counter-clockwise or vice versa. I would try to work him equally
in both directions.
With each session, remember to be consistent and repetitious with your commands. The training sessions should be
fun, but business like. If you are in a bad mood, the dog will feel this and think he's done something wrong. It's
better to have a drink of tea and cool off before taking your dog to the training pen.
As you enter the training pen gate, give your dog the down command and have him wait until you shut the gate.
Wait a few seconds, then give him the command to "let's go" or whatever command you want to use to let him know
that it's okay to go to the stock. Walk him around the stock (you are between him and stock and hopefully, he has
the desire to work stock) and which ever direction you are going, give him the command for that direction. The
national command for clockwise direction is "come by". The command for counter clockwise is "away to me". Use
whatever command, that "you" can remember and one that you will be using when you work your dog. Unless you
are thinking of trialling, use the accepted terminology. You can either work the dog in one direction per session, or
both. I have found that Kelpies prefer to see the "whole" picture and want to know why they are doing something.
Border Collies seem to not care, as long as they are pleasing you, they are fine with doing one thing at a time.
Others may have experienced something different.
When walking your dog in one direction, say the command for that direction. When you want to change directions,
give your dog the command to "lie down" or "down" (hopefully, you have already taught him the down command
before starting his training). Wait a few seconds, then give him the command for the other direction and walk in that
direction. I can't stress enough to be repetitious and use the same command. You do not need to yell or talk loud,
just talk in a normal voice and only loud enough so the dog can hear you.
Your dog should be looking at the stock, not you. If he's distracted, eating stuff off the ground, wagging his tail,
goofing off, barking, then he's not ready to start on stock. Give him some more time to grow up.
|INFORMATIONAL TRAINING AND OTHER LINKS OF INTEREST:
Dr. P's Dog Training
Gold Stock Fund - dog education
Who's in Charge?
Nothing in Life is Free
Training Puppies to Stock Dogs