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Lyra – Week 1, Day 5

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If you take a conservative approach to raising puppies, you may not wish to read this post.  You have been warned.

Today Lyra was introduced to the top step of the swimming pool.  I placed her on the step and helped her out.  She can’t quite climb out on her own yet, but that should come in the next week or so.  She chased the big dogs around the pool for 20 minutes – I was watching the entire time, ready to fish her out if needed.

She went to my kid’s school on her own four feet rather than being carried most of the time.  She did well with the kids, and will probably go again this afternoon when it’s busier.  She also headed the library where we sat on a bench and watched the world go by.

She talked all of my dogs into playing…at least some version of playing.  Cisu’s play is not very attractive since it’s more about demonstrating that she is the strongest and can knock other dogs over.  Raika was tolerant but not engaged.  Juno decided having a playmate could be fun.

She managed to climb to the top of our hillside.  It’s about 20 feet high and quite steep, with various footholds,  play structures, wooden planks,  and ledges dug in for dog and child entertainment.

She had her first session of clicker training in the clicker room.  We worked on getting on and off of a large platform.  I have no idea if she has any idea of what she is doing, but we had a nice time together.

I learned yesterday that she likes string cheese.  This is a very good thing since her food drive is modest, and liking something is important.  She does not LOVE cheese, but that may well come with time.  So…we worked her clicker work with tiny bits of string cheese.

She didnt’ feel much like heeling today, so she skipped that.

I didn’t much feel like running around like a lunatic, so I skipped that.

We did spend 20 minutes sitting in the training area with a pile of toys.  If she came to visit me I threw a toy or played tug.  If she took it to chew by herself, I kept her company but allowed her to keep it as long as she wanted.

By puppy standards, she had a great morning.

A quick note about my puppy raising…I’m of the belief that the best way to develop overall fitness, agility, coordination, rear end awareness and fast reflexes is to let a puppy be a puppy, even if that means they get hurt sometimes.  Much as small children spend hours every day testing their boundaries, I find that puppies need to do something similar.  By letting her choose her limits, I believe she’ll develop a much better sense of how to control her body as she ages.

Lyra will be allowed to leap over logs, jump onto and over objects, maneuver full speed around trees, rocks and branches, climb up and down hills, chase other dogs, and take the occasional tumble.  Yes, this involves risk. I think it’s a worthwhile one.

About dfenzi

I'm a professional dog trainer who specializes in building relationship in dog handler teams who compete in dog sports. My personal passions are Competitive Obedience and no force (motivational) dog training. I travel throughout the world teaching seminars on topics related to Dog Obedience and Building Drives and Motivation. I own Fenzi Dog Sports Academy, a comprehensive online school for motivational training of performance sport dogs.

10 responses »

  1. Thanks for this. I’ve lived in fear for my young Aussie, who not only plays very rough with my Terv, but also enjoys leaping on and off our 30″ retaining wall to the concrete below. Not to mention ricocheting off furniture, leaping in the air, crashing into walls, etc. But with all that, I couldn’t see how doing some low jumps on my front lawn could count as a significant hazard. She just reached a year old with no evidence of damage, so I’m hoping we’re good. Of course, this is the puppy who went to the vet at 16 weeks and the vet literally did a double-take when she felt the muscles in her hind quarters.

  2. I feel the same way. I do worry when my Aussie plays and rolls my new Aussie puppy, but like you I feel it is worth the risk. She runs, jumps, tumbles and chases the other dogs. I get quite the looks for leting this happen, but they are dogs and thats what dogs like to do. ( ;
    Im also the mother who let her 7 year old daughter play roller hocky on the boys team too.
    She is now 21 and no problems yet. ( :

  3. A good day for both of you…

  4. Catherine Thomas

    Yup, I knew you were the trainer for me when I watched you read dogs and people so very well and I heard you talk about giving dogs REAL choices!
    The body awareness that my now sixteen week old aussie girl Thyme has simply blows my mind … but then, she started with daily walks in the fields at four weeks old with her sibs, then the beach at six weeks and onwards and upwards she has flown!
    Sure, I have the skate boards, the bosa balls, etc … all the usual stuff of a dog training obsessed 40 something, but guess what – access to the natural world, free choice, an awesome fearless temperament and great structure ARE the biggest building blocks for my superbly confident bossy boots 🙂

  5. Another one agreeing here. I think of it like kids who learn to ice skate, bike and various other sporting activities when they are young. When those kids are in their later life they will likely still be able to do that stuff but a kid who didn’t do any of that will have a tougher time learning how to do it in their 30s or 40s. If all we ever do is walk a puppy around roads on a leash then it doesn’t learn automatic reflexes or muscle memory to do physical activity. My four month old Vizsla pup is awesome to watch as she runs through the hiking areas after my labrador. She can shorten, lengthen strides as needed, go over and under stuff and rarely puts a foot wrong. I do watch to make sure she doesn’t over-do but she is already becoming quite the little athelete.

  6. Denise, I totally approve of how you raise pups. My 5 mo whippet/BC mix is being allowed free range of my wooded, rocky property and freedom to play with the sheltie and teenage BC. I do know I am taking a chance with a fragile whippet body but so far we are OK.

    Have you tried meatballs? Walmart brand or any frozen ready-made meatball is qute the motivator. I also have good success with FreshPet’s “Dog Joy.” This is like small sausages made of real meat – very easy to handle, and extremely wholesome.

  7. In total agreement with your last statement’s of letting the dogs be dogs! My 3 GSD’s have full range and use of my 5 fenced acres…2 acres grass and the rest woods. Yes, we did have some stick pokes and vet visits every once in awhile while growing up but as they’ve aged and matured they’ve figured out how to maneuver better out there. One of mine is also handicapped…we didn’t think he would make it for longer that 2 yrs and Kash is just about to turn 6 in January. I felt he needed to figure out his own limitations. They love us deeply and truely more than anything I know, that’s why giving them the freedom to be themselves is so important I think:o)
    Happy Training!

  8. Connie Macchione

    Denise, what is your “Clicker Room”? I’m thinking maybe a distraction-less room where you can close the door and work on shaping with the clicker?

  9. I raised Via the same way. She did end up pulling a hamstring when she slipped in the mud which we worked though. The rehab vet clinic was a fun place to play.

    She is now a very bold, fit, agile, body aware adolescent.

    Yesterday she bunny hoped over the 36 inch high baby gate that was supposed to keep her in the kitchen while I was training another dog.

    I said, “What are you doing out of the kitchen?” and she wagged her tail at me and grinned. Then she spun around and bunny hoped back in . Sigh.

    • I have learned, due to aforementioned small Aussie, that you can get a 42″ baby gate. That seems to work for her. But she’s only 18″ tall.


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