Puppy Student Success: Finn’s Spotlight in Alexandria

Owner Stacy with her Australian Labradoodle, Finn, and Wholistic Hound Academy’s Jack Modell. (Photo by Sandy Modell)

By Sandy Modell

Finn, a miniature Australian Labradoodle, came into the hearts of Stacy and her husband Chi just about a year ago. But even before Finn claimed them as his dog mom and dad, Stacy stopped in to Wholistic Hound Academy to inquire about puppy training and we started the day after they brought Finn home.

Puppy Training Early

Wholistic Hound Academy believes in starting puppy training right away. We began with a home training consult that included a review of Wholistic Hound’s positive training methods and brief tutorial on how dogs think and learn and how training has evolved and progressed over the past 20 plus years.

For many people who have never trained a puppy or haven’t had a dog for many years, it’s important to provide an overview of this evolution and how we can teach dogs to make the right behavior choices using state-of-the-art, science-based positive training methods as opposed to the old-fashioned correction and punishment-based methods.

Modern rewards-based training is extremely effective and fun too. I always say that training should be fun for both you and your dog. Dogs are party animals so when we use training games to teach behaviors, they are much more willing and motivated partners in the training process.

Puppy Environment

Managing the puppy’s environment with crate training, baby gates and x-pens, will help to set your puppy up for success and help with house training too. Stacy and Chi followed our instructions and Finn was house trained in one week. Having plenty of toys and items for your puppy to chew on is essential to get you through the nipping and biting phase that all puppies go through. Teaching your puppy what is appropriate to chew on and being able to quickly redirect him to those items will reduce the Velociraptor attacks on your sensitive extremities and expensive clothes. It’s easier to redirect than to correct–and, more fun too!

Puppies are learning about their new homes the minute they step inside. So, it is important to start training the good behaviors right away. Solid name recognition, focus and attention on you, along with acclimating your puppy to their environment, different surfaces, sounds, people and other animals are all part of the process. Stacy and Chi did just that. Then they enrolled Finn in our Puppy Head Start and Socialization class to continue building a foundation of good behaviors, along with appropriate playint eractions with other puppies.

Early Socialization

The critical puppy socialization period occurs between eight and twelve weeks of age. Although we used to wait much longer to start exposing puppies to the world around them, the best practice now is to get them out early into safe and clean environments and expose them to the world they will experience in their lives. The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) states in a position paper on their website that, “In general, puppies can start puppy socialization classes as early as 7-8 weeks of age. Puppies should receive a minimum of one set of vaccines at least 7 days prior to the first class and a first deworming.”

During the past year, Finn and his parents have attended Puppy Grade School, Good Dog 101 and 102, and numerous behavior workshops, including Walking Nicely on Leash, Recalls That Rock, No Jumps and Impulse Control, fitness classes, and most recently, a workshop on teaching your dog how to fetch. And, most importantly, they took the time to work with Finn every day and made training fun.

Finn is now a one-year-old and he’s quite an amazing puppy: resilient, well-rounded, focused, and friendly to people and other dogs. Stacy and Chi can take him hiking off-leash because he has an awesome recall. We used rewards of all kinds, including high value treats, toys and balls, and reinforced his focus and attention, self-control and coming-when-called—the first time! We didn’t need to use corrections, prong collars or shock collars to build a reliable recall and Finn and his folks are very happy about that. We simply rewarded him with high value treats when he came when called, and let him know through more treats, praise and excitement that he had performed a miracle–because a dog who leaves something interesting to come to you does just that! Stacy says that, “We get lots of comments on how he is so well trained. How did we do it? Religiously trained!”

I hope you enjoyed our first Student Success Spotlight article. Happy Training!

Sandy Modell, CPDT-KA, is the Founder and CEO of Wholistic Hound Academy, Alexandria’s award winning, premier canine training and learning center — offering classes and private lessons in puppy training, adult dog manners, behavior modification, agility, dog sports and canine fitness and conditioning, kids and dogs, pre-pet planning and pet selection. Classes starting soon! Visit www.wholistichound.com to enroll in our programs, and like us on Facebook.com/wholistichound.