8 - 10 Week Training Program (Focused Puppy)
This program is available for any of our puppies in litters where we offer it, but we especially recommend it for puppies going to homes with inexperienced dog trainers, homes with families that prefer to forego that time period between 8 and 10 weeks when few puppies sleep through the night, and homes without another dog. There are several benefits to leaving your puppy with us for these extra 2 weeks.
One very important reason for offering this service is to give puppies additional time with littermates. This extra time with littermates gives puppies a better foundation for relating to other dogs, but more importantly littermates teach each other bite-inhibition. Having good bite inhibition creates a gentler mouth and a puppy that is more pleasant in his play with humans.
Another reason we recommend puppies stay with us until later is that the best time to give an initial vaccine is between 8 and 9 weeks of age. Puppies vaccinated at older ages have fewer side effects and a greater chance of having an immune response to the vaccine. These puppies will need only 2 more puppy vaccines whereas our puppies vaccinated at 7 weeks might need 3. Also, it is best to wait a full week after a vaccine before possible exposure to the disease. It takes 6 or 7 days for a Parvo vaccine to take full effect. For puppies staying with us until at least 10 weeks, we give the first vaccine right at 9 weeks.
Puppies go through a fear stage that peaks at 8 weeks and goes through about 10 weeks. We like to send our puppies to new homes before 8 weeks or after 10 weeks so that the stress of a home change doesn’t fall at the height of the fear stage. By 10 weeks, most puppies are completely out of it.
Another advantage that we’ve found in sending puppies home later revolves around the immaturity of young puppies’ digestive systems. Many 8-week old puppies experience digestive upsets when changing homes. Far fewer experience the upset at 10 weeks.
Finally, we’ve found that many people are either inexperienced with puppies or have experience that is so far in the past that they don’t remember much of it. Training an 8-week old puppy is time consuming, sleep depriving, and sometimes exhausting. Very few 8-week old puppies are able to sleep all night in a crate without needing to go outside, but more than half of 10-week old puppies are able to hold it for 6 hours. Our 10-week old puppies are not fully house-trained by any means. They WILL have accidents if you don’t let them out often enough. However, by 10-weeks of age, our puppies are accustomed to pottying almost exclusively outside instead of inside and their bladders are a little more mature than at 8 weeks enabling them to hold it longer. If you will take our 10-week old puppies out often enough, the number of accidents will be minimal.
See our 10 Week Videos page to see videos of a litter of 9 puppies trained in 2017 to see examples of the results of the training we provide. See our 10 Week Videos of puppies trained in 2018 page to see videos of 2 litters with a total of 12 puppies trained in 2018 to see more examples of the results of the training we provide. The exact ages of the different puppies is stated on the video which should give you an idea of how far along our puppies usually are at various ages.
Listed below is what we work on with these puppies. No puppy can be fully trained and dependable in any area until they are close to a year old. This program is just a start but it is a very good start for the age puppies we are working with.
Our Program includes a start in the following areas:
1. House-training through a doggy door
We take away all indoor litter areas the day after our regular pick-up days and work with them on doing all of their business outside. Though most people don’t have a doggy door, we’ve found that puppies that are fluent with a doggy door and doing their business outside are highly motivated to get outside when they have to pee or poop. If new family members will open the door to let them out frequently, they train incredibly easy.
2. Crate conditioning
We spend the time between 8-10 weeks conditioning puppies to like the crates before we begin using the crate for containment for extended periods of time. All meals are fed in crates, favorite bones are only given in crates, and puppies are given treats when they are sitting quietly in crates. We only force puppies to stay in crates minimally at this age finding that for the long term it is more important that puppies develop a love for a crate than to be forced to spend long periods of time there too early. We start our crate-conditioning by leaving our puppies in their crates by slowly and incrementally increasing the amount of time that they stay there after meals. We start 8 week old puppies with less than a minute. By the time puppies are 13 weeks, they are used to being in there for up to 2 hours.
3. Preliminary work on elimination of bad behaviors
We begin working on elimination of bad behaviors such as jumping and mouthing by enforcing good behaviors and never rewarding the bad ones. We physically do not let puppies get to our hands with their mouths but instead we re-direct them to play with toys instead of our hands by always keeping toys in our hands when we are sitting with puppies. We never pet puppies over 8 weeks when they jump on either us or on the side of a pen. Instead we teach them to sit for attention. These bad behaviors take far more time to get rid of than this short training time provides but we start the process. Puppies (and dogs) also learn very quickly who will allow them to jump on them and who will not. New families must be consistent and continue the training.
6. Waiting to eat on a release command
Our meal-time routine teaches respect and pack leadership without punishments. It also teaches puppies to make eye contact and to have self-control. We work with each puppy individually on getting in a crate, turning and sitting, and holding eye contact until we release them to eat. Puppies then spend increasingly longer periods of time in the crate with bones and random treats. After meal/crate time is over, puppies work on waiting again for a release command in order to exit the crate. This routine is carried out 3 times a day at meal times.
7. Basic obedience including focus, walking on a leash, coming when called, the sit and down commands, an introduction to the place command, and a preliminary introduction to the stay command on and off the place cot.
Teaching a puppy to focus and look at his owner is what we believe to be the foundation of all training and is our priority. A puppy that is not focused on a person but instead guided purely by food and leash pressure will never be a good obedience dog. Our primary goal is to produce puppies that WANT to look to their owners for direction and do so out of habit and a desire to please, instead of having puppies who obey out of fear. We start teaching the sit and down command as well as walking on leash and the look command just after 8 weeks of age (and with larger litters with families wanting training, we start shortly after 7 weeks). The place and stay commands are not introduced until sits and downs are the norm with just a hand signal (no luring with food). This is usually just a few days before 10 weeks old. None of these commands are solid at 10 weeks but we give a very good introduction. The focused leash walking that you see on the videos can only by maintained by puppies this age for very short periods of time. It takes 100's of hours over months of time and an older, more mature dog to maintain that kind of focus for long periods of time. Though this formal heeling is usually not kept up by new owners, the early training we provide in this area helps to build handler focus while moving. We therefore consider this training very important in attaining our overall primary goal of creating puppies that WANT to focus on a handler in both stationary as well as moving exercises. The videos on our trained puppies page give good examples of where our average puppy will be in obedience training by the end of the program. The 9 puppies in the videod litter are by no means perfect, but for 10-week old puppies, we think we do an incredible job.
8. Continued desensitization to common environmental stressors.
English Golden Retrievers tend toward having softer temperaments and need more socialization than many other breeds. We expose our puppies to the normal sites and sounds of a busy home, to various outdoor areas, to various floor and ground surfaces, to tight spaces, to steps, and to a variety of sounds. Field trips away from our home are not a part of this program.
What this program DOES NOT include
We do not have our puppies sleeping at night in crates at this age. They have free access to outside through a doggy door until we are sure that they are easily able to consistently hold their potty overnight. We do not get up with these puppies through the night but instead work during the daytime to create a love of a crate in them. We make almost all of their experiences in crates positive with the exception of our gradual increase of time spent in the crate. There is the occasional crying pup in the crate, but by far with our methods, our puppies not only accept a crate, they choose it for themselves.
We do not heavily focus on house-training nor do we spend a lot of time on it. We go in and out with our puppies until they are fluent with doing all of their business outside through a doggy door. About 95% of our puppies are to that point by 8 weeks of age. Beyond that, we teach bladder and bowel control as well as self-control in general by giving puppies short scheduled times in crates and pens. House-training comes naturally as our puppies develop and grow. The house-training would progress slightly faster if we tethered each puppy to us and gave them more freedom in our home. However, we don't feel that the extra time invested would be worth the extra cost that we'd charge. Our goal is to train the things that most people cannot train and to leave the easy things (such as opening and closing a door for a puppy to get outside) to you. We've house-trained puppies both with and without a doggy door and the differences in the results are negligible. House-training is mostly a matter of teaching bladder control and creating a consistent habit of doing business outside until they grow up enough to be trusted.
We do not use corrections with these young puppies at all but instead divert their attention from undesirable habits, provide them plenty of exercise, and control their environment so that they have no choice but to behave themselves. For example, we don't punish a puppy for jumping on us, but simply ignore him until he sits politely for attention. We don't punish a puppy for nipping at us but instead we first try diverting his attention with toys. We then simply do not allow him to get to our hands to bite us. We pet our puppies in such a way that they cannot get their mouths to us. We do not try to sit and pet a puppy that is acting wildly. We provide other outlets for energy and if they still do not behave, they stay in a pen away from us until they are able to sit calmly. We do not allow puppies to put their mouths on us or jump at all. They learn quickly that if they want attention, they must behave on our terms. This method of training works far better than punishment based training, but it takes time for bad behaviors to extinguish themselves. It cannot be rushed. By 10 weeks of age, hardly any of our puppies mouth us and jumping is minimal, but at this young age, they are still testing the waters. New families must show their puppy that they have the same expectations that we have. Families also must provide other ways for puppies to play. A 10 week old puppy cannot be expected to sit quietly to be petted unless he is given sufficient exercise and mental stimulation. Here at Summer Brook, our puppies are kept very busy during the day with training, socialization, and play and are therefore ready for calm indoor petting sessions. We provide a very controlled environment to set these young puppies up for success rather than giving them all sorts of temptations that then call for punishments. For example, we keep our shoes off the floor rather than punishing a puppy for chewing them. We provide lots of toys so that there is no need to chew the furniture. When our puppies aren't in pens, they are watched very carefully so that they don't chew anything undesirable. When they do, we simply divert their attention rather than punish them. Though a well-timed punishment can have its results in deterring certain behaviors, it comes with a price to the puppy in terms of confidence level and desire to work with and please a person. We don't think the benefits of corrections are worth the cost with young puppies so we don't use them.
One last thing that we don't do is continuing the weekly pictures. We do one final set of pictures during these 2 weeks usually around 8 1/2 to 9 weeks of age. Puppies younger than 8 weeks change an incredible amount in a week's time, whereas the change slows down considerably the older puppies get.
Other information on our 8-10 week program:
We feel that the method that is used by a trainer is more important than what is taught, especially in puppyhood. Any trainer can quickly teach almost any behavior using punishment based or aversive training. However, these quicker training methods come with a cost to a puppy’s confidence, drive, and enthusiasm for work. Though punishment based training can give quicker results for the short-term, positive training gives longer lasting results. Please see our page on our Training Philosophy for more information on how we train.
The price for the training for our 10 week old puppies is on our puppy questionnaire. Puppies must be picked up by the time they are 10 weeks 3 days old. If you need us to keep your puppy for extra time, we might be in a position to keep him/her for extra time and continue the training at about the same daily rate. This daily rate is also discussed on the questionnaire if we are able to keep puppies for longer on particular litters. The price of puppies is due (not including training fees) when puppies are 5 weeks of age (the same policy as for puppies leaving at 8 weeks). Training fees must be received by us at least two weeks before puppies are picked up or they must be paid by cash or certified funds. (We provide a receipt if payment is by cash.)
For those wanting to leave their puppies for only a portion of these two weeks, we offer the following: Puppies picked up between 8 and 9 weeks will have a boarding fee of $50/day. See our puppy pick up page to see what our boarding plan includes. All puppies left over 9 weeks will be started in our training program. Puppies picked up between 9 weeks and 9 weeks 6 days will be started in all that is discussed on this page except for the sit/stay which is usually not started by us until close to 10 weeks. This includes sit, down, stay at a down, walking on a leash, waiting for food and to exit crates and pens, and of course the hallmark of our program, focus. Puppies picked up even a day before 10 weeks will not be started at all with a sit/stay as there is not enough time for the reliability of it to be even worth the time to start it. Though puppies picked up at 9 weeks will be started in all exercises, the reliability of all of the exercises will not be close to that of a 10 week old puppy. In fact, there is a marked difference between even a 10 week and 10 1/2 week old puppy with regard to reliability with all training.
One final note about this program: Many of our 10 1/2 week old puppies are too big to fly in the cabin, especially the boys. If you wait until your puppy is over 10 weeks, there is a possibility that you will have to either pick up your puppy by car or hope that no one asks to weigh your puppy or your puppy will need to fly the same way that shipped puppies fly. This is a reasonable thing to hope for. As of the end of 2018, we've only had one person to EVER have their puppy and/or carrier weighed and have so far never had anyone turned away from flying in the cabin. We've even had several puppies fly out at 12-16 weeks of age in a medium Sherpa carrier who were several pounds over the official weight limit. It was tight but the puppies just curled up and went to sleep. No matter the weight of your puppy, you still must come to our home to pick up your puppy. We do not ship. If your puppy is too big to for you to feel comfortable taking him in the cabin and you need to fly, the only choice will be for the puppy to ride below. So far, no one has chosen this option. There will be an additional $75 charge if your puppy needs a health certificate. As of the end of December 2018, to our knowledge only Delta requires a health certificate for in-cabin flight.