Trained Puppies and/or Adults
For most of our litters, we offer training up until 10 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. 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 distinguishes our training programs from the training provided by most is the focus our puppies have on a handler. The very first thing we teach a puppy is to have and to enjoy having eye contact with a person before even thinking about training 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. 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. Luring, a very popular training tool that we rarely use, is simply having a puppy to get into a position by following a treat. Leash pressure is pulling (or some trainers advocate popping) a leash. Shaping, our number 1 training tool 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. 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 food-focused or even worse puppies that are focused on avoiding a punishment (as is still the case with many of today's trainers).
Even our 7 1/2 to 8 week old puppies are better trained than most. Starting at about 5 1/2 weeks, they are trained to potty outside by way of a doggy door and are eating in crates. For those wanting a really good start in training, our Focused Puppy Program (8-10 Weeks) gives additional training starting before 8 weeks (usually at around 7 weeks 2-5 days) up until 10 weeks of age. Pick up for these puppies can be up until puppies are 10 weeks 3 days. You can see more details on this program and reasons that we so highly recommend it by clicking on our Focused Puppy Program (8-10 Weeks). This page gives more details and has videos of 9 puppies from our 10 week old trained puppies from our 2017 Penny/Dorel litter. See our Raising Puppies page for information on how we raise our puppies from birth to 8 weeks and also see the Our Home page to see where our puppies are raised.
To see videos and a description of the training provided for puppies left with us until 13 weeks of age, see our Good Start Program. To see the training provided for puppies left with us until 18 weeks of age, see our Strong Foundation Program for more details and videos.
Our Training Philosopy and General Methods
Our puppies are raised in our home with a training philosophy that is centered around positive training methods. We emphasize methods that teach respect by rewards and a controlled environment rather than by punishments. We don't think that corrections are necessary nor as effective as the methods we use in the teaching phases of any behavior. We are not positive only extremists but we only advocate the use of fair corrections in certain circumstances once a behavior is learned and generalized, and then only when we are 110% sure that a dog knows what we are asking and is still refusing to do it. We make undesirable behaviors unpleasant, but not painful. We rarely recommend corrections to inexperienced trainers as it can be difficult to ascertain when a dog is refusing or simply confused about what he's being asked to do. We never use corrections on puppies under 3 months of age and rarely on older dogs. Most of our puppies and dogs never need a correction. Our goal is to create focused puppies that WANTS to work. You can read about our philosophy on corrections on our corrections page.
Who trains the puppies?
I 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 and I have two friends from BOTC (Birmingham Obedience Training Center) who help as needed. These friends have both taught many training classes including puppy training classes and are very competive trainers. 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.
My training experience includes having trained dozens of puppies (not counting those we place out at 8 weeks) as well as experience in 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 and have received several perfect scores in AKC rally obedience as well as a rally combined high in trial at a very large trial. I've received scores of 197 and 197 1/2 (out of a possible 200) in AKC Open A obedience classes (extremely high scores for 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 sniff scented articles out of a pile, do directed retrieves and directed jumping, and 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 as we placed him in another home two weeks after he received that first leg. See Jack's page on the website to see a couple of videos of him and me competing at a couple of obedience trials.
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 (even a trained puppy) in a home where everyone works all day 5 days a week. We cannot send a puppy to a home where he or she won't receive hours of love and attention every day.