My Never Ending Story, a true story
By Leah Morse
When I first made the choice to become a professional dog trainer and attend Denver Dog Works Canine Career Courses, it became quickly clear that I really should have a young dog to learn with. I had two Senior Citizen dogs that did have the stamina to go through school with me. I found a breeder and, for the first time ever, put down a deposit on a boxer puppy fetus, still several weeks from being born. I started to learn about canine development from birth through adulthood. I learned about health and potential issues. I learned about ranking and owner leadership. The following spring I picked out my girl puppy from a litter of 11 (sign of things to come) and home we went. We love to come up with different names and Story seemed to fit. We would joke about how she was a silly Story, a naughty Story, and a sad forlorn Story and can’t leave out the occasional drama queen! AKC and UKC registered as Never Ending Story.
I soon found that this was the best decision as watching little Story grow and develop as we learned about the phases that puppies go through really captured my understanding. We started training from day one. No on the couch and No jumping were the first rules in place. Crate training was typical as she had never seen a crate and she was raised in a kennel so dogs were more appealing then people in the beginning. Fortunately for me, Story did not like to eat alone so we started training position changes right away. Sit, Down, Stand and come here of course but for fun we worked on roll over and right paw, left paw. It amazed me how quickly she picked it up, just for kibble (yes I fed her kibble in the beginning- wish I knew more about raw diet back then!). My family also was on board with having her sit for attention. Her brain was like an open sponge picking up what we taught her. By nine weeks she was amazing our family and friends with her little routine of “tricks”.
We socialized her to everything. We registered her as a therapy dog in training and I took her to Denver Dog Works every day that I went for further training and socialization with other dogs while I was learning to be a dog trainer. 7-12 weeks which is the best time for Human socialization as well as the fear period of 8-11 weeks, were when we took her everywhere, big box stores that allowed us in, parks, friends and family homes and we had lots of company come to the house. We were so careful to give Story safe encounters with new people, animals or situations. I do believe we were successful. Story very quickly warmed up to people and enjoyed our company more than other dogs. My first lesson in kennel raised puppy versus a home raised puppy. Story discovered retrieving in this period and created her own game of solitary fetch (you can see my You Tube video by copying and clicking on this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7UhzaxrGf0, ). No one would play with her so she found that by pushing her dumb bell down the stairs it was a great game to go retrieve it and do it again. She was about 13 weeks old in the video. Story learned to ring the bell for the door to go potty and was mostly successful at this age. We were careful to not have her unsupervised. Accidents are going to happen and now, looking back, each accident was in a different area. Each accident gave us the opportunity to show where not to go.
I have to say learning the development stages and watching it happen in my own home with my own puppy was very valuable.
Next week- Never Ending Story and the Flight Instinct Period of 4-8 months