Shaping Puppies to Focus and Think
Our training program is very different from most. Read on for more details or to see some of the many videos of past puppies trained here at Summer Brook. The first video below is of Oliver, a 9 week 6 day old 2018 Molly/Luke puppy doing obedience here at Summer Brook Acres. Oliver is already in his new home but this video shows a typical 10 week old puppy in training here and explains some of what and how we train. Scroll down for more details and for a link to videos of many more puppies we have trained in the past.
What We Offer
For most of our litters, we offer training up until 10 to 10 1/2 weeks of age and feel that this is the ideal age for puppies to change homes if a breeder has the time and skill to start intensive one-on-one training before 8 weeks. If we won’t be having another litter when these puppies are in training, we will sometimes keep puppies for up to 12 weeks. We will also occasionally keep back a puppy from an exceptional litter and train them to higher levels. We won’t be advertising these puppies until we see how they are progressing in their training and can post a video on our site.
What Makes Our Training Program Different?
What distinguishes our training programs from the training provided by most is the focus our puppies have on a handler as you can see by looking at videos of our puppies in training. The very first thing we teach a puppy is to have and to enjoy having eye contact with a person before we even think about training particular behaviors. Many (in fact, almost all breeders’) training videos show puppies that are barely paying attention to the handler. This type training will at the best produce puppies that reluctantly follow a handler and their food.
The Foundation of Our Program
For us, the very foundation of our program is teaching puppies to want to look at a handler, focus on them, and to think about what they need to do in order to please the handler and get a reward. Our teaching methods are built on marker training and shaping instead of luring and leash pressure.
Minimal Use of Luring and Leash Pressure
Luring is simply having a puppy to get into a position by following a treat. Leash pressure is pulling (or some trainers advocate popping or jerking) a leash. We will occasionally use luring and leash pressure, but by far most of our training is with shaping.
Shaping – Our Primary Training Method
Shaping is a training method that encourages a puppy to want to incrementally figure out on his own the behavior that a handler is wanting to train. It is similar to the hotter/colder guessing game that many children play. We wait until a puppy starts to move in the direction of doing what we want and reward as he gets closer to the desired behavior expecting more and more from him as he progresses. Though shaping takes more time initially to train than traditional luring types of methods, the results are far better and longer lasting.
We use treats but in a different way from lure-based trainers. Treats are not used as lures and bribes, but rather as rewards. In other words, our puppies are not shown the reward and asked to follow it around to entice them to work. It is only presented after the behavior is done. Puppies are encouraged to actively use their brains in order to engage the handler and to earn the reward.
Our primary goal is to create in our puppies a desire to work and focus on a handler. Having puppies that are primarily focusing on the treats themselves is not enough. We want willing and happy working puppies that desire above all to please the handler, not puppies that are obsessively food-focused or even worse puppies that are focused on avoiding a punishment (as is still the case with many of today’s trainers).
Links to Details of Our Program
See our Focused Puppy Program (8-10 Weeks) for details on the training provided at these ages.
See our Training from 10 to 13 Weeks page for details on the training provided at these ages.
Links to Videos
See our 10 Week Videos page for video examples of puppies at about 10 weeks of age trained by us in the past.
Our 13 Week Videos page shows video examples of puppies at about 13 weeks of age trained by us in the past.
Click on our 4 to 5 Month Old Training Videos pagefor video examples of older puppies trained by us in the past. These puppies are not reserved in advanced and our primary goal with these puppies is in preparing them to pass the AKC Canine Good Citizen test (CGC).
Training Starts Early
Even our 7 1/2 to
Who Trains the Puppies?
I (Karen) do the initial obedience training myself, but we have a team who help keep things running smoothly and who work with puppies on potty training, socializing, and obedience skills already trained. We have three high school girls (2 of which homeschool so can come in the mornings), one high school boy, a house-keeper, and our daughter (until she starts grad school in fall 2018) who all work on a regular basis. Our daughter has been an incredible trainer for many years. In addition to these regular workers, our other daughter often helps on the weekends. Besides having people who are paid to work with us, we also have a good many friends and contacts that visit puppies to make sure that puppies have a wide variety of ages and types of people to interact with.
Karen’s Experience and Expertise
My training experience includes having trained dozens of puppies. This doesn’t count the many raised by us to 8 weeks. I also have experience training at high levels in AKC obedience. I’ve put many obedience titles on several dogs including completing 3 CDX’s, and numerous rally titles at all levels. I’ve won over 2 dozen first places at AKC obedience trials. I have received several perfect scores in AKC rally obedience. My list of accomplishments also includes a rally combined high in trial at a very large trial. I have received scores of 197 and 197 1/2 in AKC Open A obedience classes. These are extremely high scores at this level. In fact, scores this high often win High in Trial.
I’ve also successfully trained at the very highest level in AKC obedience: Utility. It is at the Utility level that dogs do very advanced work. They sniff scented articles out of a pile. These dogs do directed retrieves and directed jumping. They do obedience work from a distance (with dog on one side of a ring and handler on the other). Jack and I began training for Utility (UD title). He received his first utility leg at his second weekend of shows. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to complete Jack’s utility tile. We placed him in another home two weeks after he received that first leg. See Jack’s page to see a couple of videos of him and me competing at an obedience trial.
A Good Home is a Must
We are very selective about where our puppies go. Our puppies must go to homes with people who have time for a puppy. We won’t place a puppy in a home where a puppy will be left alone for most of the day. We cannot send a puppy to a home where he or she won’t receive hours of attention every day. Even our trained puppies need a lot of time and love.