ClickerSolutions Training Treasures

Training Puppies in the Litter

My pups go home between 8 and 10 weeks, depending on the experience and lifestyle of the buyer. All my puppies are crate trained before they go home (ugh! this means a lot of sleepless nights, since I do three a night). At 8 weeks old, each puppy has to spend at least three nights alone quietly in a crate before it goes home.

I start conditioning them very early. Every day, when I clean the puppy kennel, all the pups are popped together into a large crate with newspaper, fleece, toys and treats while I sweep, mop the floor, change bedding, etc. This gives mom dog a few minutes off, and the pups get used to being crated a couple times a day. This is foundation conditioning. By the time they are eight weeks old it is old hat.

Funny thing though. The litter I had this summer, one of the puppies, Foxglove, never did get happy in the crate. In the dozens of puppies and dogs I have crate trained, she was the one confirmed screamer (really, it hurt your ears) that never really got with the program. When she went to her new home (a Clydesdale horse farm, with a two yr old spayed Aussie) her new owner let her sleep in bed with him after the first night of screaming. Ha! She wins! Luckily she is a wonderful bitch and very self-controlled in all other things. She just wants to do what she wants to do!

There are always new things to learn! I try to expose puppies to lots of people, different shapes, size, age, gender, color. The more experience they have, the more neuro-synapses they develop, the better able they are to cope with the world at large. I deliberately but gently expose them to different sounds, smells, substrates, colors, patterns, toys, mini-agility equipment (g) and anything else I can think of. I try to put something new in the kennel twice a day for them to explore and interact with.

Can you tell I'm a puppy junkie? I love watching their little minds develop!

At four weeks when they can walk and follow I start taking them outside. It is interesting how quickly they learn to relieve themselves on the grass. I take them out day and night, rain, snow, sun, fog, wind, whatever is happening. At this time (four weeks) I replace the whelping box with a kiddie pool of pine shavings. Within a day they are 90% eliminating in the pine shavings, and at the end of two days, my floor mopping is over.

I don't teach them this, somehow they get it from substrate and/or other environmental cues. It is much easier to clean pine shavings and sweep the floor than deal with wet or poopy newspaper and stuff tracked all over! The puppies stay much cleaner too! They all like to bury their toys in the shavings, too. For show dogs it prepares them for going in those x-pens full of shavings provided at shows. Sometimes there just isn't anywhere else to take them!

By five weeks they are exploring the edges of the woods and interacting with some of the older gentle dogs. If I have two litters at the same time (only did that once) at this time the moms would nurse anyone who was hungry, they didn't care if it was theirs or not!

By six weeks they are really being courageous about going into the woods, playing with the cat, attacking the older aunties, uncles and cousins.

We do temperament tests at 7 weeks of age.

Wendy Dreyer
Arboretum Australian Shepherds
27 Dunbar Road
Quaker Hill, CT 06375
copyright 1999 Wendy Dreyer


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