Why We Use Puppy Enrichment Exercises

Posted by on Dec 11, 2016 in Puppy Rearing | 0 comments

Why We Use Puppy Enrichment Exercises

Puppy Enrichment Exercises

We are living right smack dab in the middle of a profound shift in what we desire our dogs’ temperaments to be. There is an explosion of interest in dog sports and an associated explosion in dog training and dog behaviorism studies. When centuries ago you might take your dog to the woods to hunt, or into the field sheep herding, now days, many dog owners are attending training classes and participate in sports; either artificially simulating their dog’s original function, or exclusively fun activities of dog-human partnership. There are:

  • obedience competitions
  • rally o
  • agility
  • lure coursing
  • barn hunt
  • tracking
  • fly ball
  • and more!

While I have yet to get requests for puppies that may excell as barn hunters or lure coursing dogs, I do get inquiries all the time for puppies that would make good agility dogs, or obedience dogs, or therapy dogs or hunting dogs. The kind of puppies that are outgoing, free of phobias, adaptable, friendly to strangers and other pets. Dogs that would love young and old and everyone in between. Dogs that let you take food or toys from their mouths. Dogs that don’t fall apart during thunder storms or in a new place.

Personally, I do both, I breed for all these traits and raise the puppies with lots of enrichment and socializaton. I want them to be able to express their joy and enthusiasm while keeping all four feet on the ground. I want them to be fine with going potty on a wet grass (or gravel or dirt) while it is raining. I want them to be happy to spend a little quiet time in their crates.

This is where puppy enrichment and raising protocols come into play. For the next three months of these puppies lives, I will share the protocols I use, and always hope that what I share will be continued by the puppies’ new owners.

 

Please note that none of the protocols are in any way an attempt to suppress any traits that have been bred into our dogs for generations, but rather, they are a gentle guiding of puppy development while teaching patterns of behavior that will help them to navigate the human world.

The protocols I use have proven to respect the natural psychological and physical development of puppies. Although a puppy’s growth is a fluid process, nonetheless there are markers along the way for their various stages of development. Each stage reflects physical and mental readiness for another phase of development. Judicially augmenting the puppies’ experiences and environment with stimuli aiding them in learning what is appropriate for each stage.  The results of augmenting the protocols results in mental resilience and increased cognitive abilities.

The main principles behind the protocols I will be utilizing are: the mentioned above respect for the natural development,
age-appropriate blocks of “work”, always followed by rest and sleep, increasingly individualized protocols as the puppies grow to reflect specific needs of each puppy, focus on emotionally charged positive association with a desired behavior and choice within a prescribed range (management of the environment rather than coercion).

While the use of the enrichment exercises and protocols do not guarantee a perfect adult, the benefits of enrichment protocols are clearly obvious to those owning a dog raised with them.

By far the best resource for enrichment protocols all in one place is a DVD series, and now a movement, called Puppy Culture, authored by Jane Lindquist

 

 

 

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