This page discusses what you can reasonably expect from a Summer Brook trained Golden Retriever puppy. Read on for more details on what kinds of expectations you can have for a future Summer Brook puppy.
Our goal with regard to puppy training is two-fold:
- to give each and every puppy a good start in the most important aspects of training and
- to provide families with tools for successfully continuing what we start.
Most, if not all, puppies under 3-4 months of age need work in building focus, confidence, resilience, self-control, and a desire to work with a person. Building these foundational qualities is our primary goal and is what we do best.
However, we feel that it is in the best interest of most puppies (provided the new family will continue the training) for us to transfer the training (along with the puppy of course!) to new families prior to 3 months of age: before they reach the end of their socialization developmental period.
Because we are breeders with newborn puppies occasionally in our home and because of lack of access to every possible environment, we cannot socialize puppies to the level that new owners can do in the environment that each puppy will be permanently living.
An Incredible Foundation For New Owners to Build on
Puppies under 3 months (no matter how well trained for their age) are not developmentally mature enough to be fully trained. However, we can build an incredible foundation!
Leash Walking and Developmental Phases
Leash walking is a skill that must be practiced throughout puppyhood. As a puppy grows and moves from one developmental period to another, the challenges families will encounter on a leash will change.
Our goal is not to simply present a puppy who will walk perfectly on a leash. If that were our goal, families would be quickly disappointed when their puppies entered into new developmental phases. As puppies develop, their abilities and inclinations toward loose-leash walking changes. Therefore, our primary goal is to build the foundation and then give new families the tools to build on this foundation and to continue the training themselves.
10-12 week old puppies often struggle with self-confidence as they are thrust into new environments. Their problems on a leash are most often with regard to lack of confidence. However, puppies that are 4-6 months old might have totally different issues as their confidence grows along with their energy level and ability to control that extra energy.
Our Goals for Leash Walking
Therefore, our goal with regard to leash walking is the following:
- Training puppies to have the ability to focus on their handlers when asked
- Acclimating our puppies to the leash itself
- Teaching our puppies to reposition themselves in a sit position on the left side of their handlers when asked
- Teaching our puppies to focus on a handler while they move, initially for very short distances. Then as proficiency grows at short distances, we gradually increase the distance.
All of our puppies staying over 8 weeks will be worked with on the above areas. However, the level of proficiency varies depending on the length of time that the puppy is left with us for training. These differences will be discussed below.
Summary of What We Train and What You Can Expect From a Summer Brook Trained Puppy
Our primary goal in training our puppies is to build internal qualities with good behavior being a by-product of building these internal qualities. These qualities are focus, a strong desire to work with and please a person, self-confidence, and self-control. We work with each puppy in the following areas as we strive to build these internal qualities:
- House Training
- Crate conditioning and crate training
- Stay Exercises on the floor as well as on a place bed.
- Waiting for a release command before eating food
- Good manners: working toward not jumping or mouthing
- Waiting for a release command before passing through gates or exiting a crate
- Socialization and environmental desensitization
- Work in finding heel position. All our puppies staying over 8 weeks will be trained to find and stay in heel position when in a stationary position and when moving two or three steps at heel in a non-distracting environment. Puppies in our 11 and 12 Weeks program will have more intensive heeling work.
Our Training Options
In the past, we have offered three different training options. These were our 10 Weeks Program, our 11 Weeks Program, and our 12 1/2 Weeks program. However, beginning in late 2022, most of our litters will only have our 11-weeks program as an option along with our new 8-week option.
Pick up days for our 8 Weeks option is from 7 weeks 4 days to 8 weeks. Pick up for our 10 Weeks program (should we offer it again in the future) is from 9 weeks 5 days to 10 weeks. For our 11 Weeks program, the pick up days are from 10 weeks 5 days to 11 weeks. The 12 1/2 Weeks program pick up days (if it were an option for a particular litter) go from 12 weeks 1 day to 12 weeks 3 days. We will occasionally keep a puppy until 16 weeks.
All puppies, no matter when they will be picked up will have training in all areas listed above except for our 8 week old puppies. However, the level at which puppies will be trained is much higher at 11 and 12 weeks than at 10 weeks. Developmentally, puppies are able to learn much better after 10 weeks than prior.
The New 8 Week Program
In order to accommodate those who’d rather have an earlier pick-up with a less expensive price tag, we’ve decided to offer an 8 Week Option. The first four puppies from all upcoming litters will be reserved to those wanting our 11 Week option. We will offer any additional puppies to approved families wanting our 8 Weeks program.
The average Golden Retriever litter is between 7 and 8 puppies. We have averaged closer to 8. See our How We Reserve Our Puppies for details on how our new reservation system will work.
What We Train In Our 8 Weeks Program
- All of our basic training as is listed on our How We Raise Our Puppies page including crate conditioning, doggy door training, initial house training, socialization protocol, and training to navigate two and three steps.
- Puppies will begin eating individually in crates by the time they are 5 weeks 3 days old.
- Puppies will start learning focus and eye contact right at 6 weeks as we teach them to wait on a release before having access to their food.
- Starting at 6 weeks 2 days, we’ll begin working with them in our training room on the sit command, the down command, and a brief down/stay. These commands will be taught with shaping rather than luring so that puppies learn to think, listen, and focus on a person rather than simply learning to follow a piece of food around.
- We begin marker training right at 6 weeks 2 days. (Clicker training is a form of marker training if you are familiar with that). You can find more information on marker training (and shaping) throughout our website.
- A recall is started. However, it is barely started as puppy selection might not be complete until right before puppies begin going home. Since we won’t know who will be getting which puppy until a few days before puppies leave us, we will not know the names of the puppies. Therefore, we will simply use “puppy come” with all of them.
- Heeling is not taught to these puppies at all. There simply is not enough time and many puppies don’t have the self-control or coordination to begin learning to heel until shortly before these puppies leave. If we can’t do something with excellence, we don’t do it. Therefore, we’ll leave the leash work to new owners.
Summary of the Differences Between Picking Up at 11 Weeks Verses 10 Weeks
Here is a summary of the differences between our 10 Weeks Program and our 11 Weeks Program.
- 11 week old puppies can hold it longer overnight. Most can hold it for a 5-6 hour night. 10 week old puppies on average can hold it for about 4-5 hours at night.
- The longer puppies are left with us, the longer they can hold their potty during the daytime as well.
- 11 week old puppies can stay in a down position for longer periods of time. We can also move further away from them both on and off the place bed.
- Our 11 week old puppies can also hold a stay under more distraction.
- Starting at 10 weeks, we work more heavily with getting our puppies acclimated to entertaining themselves alone with bones, bully sticks, toys, and/or antlers.
- We work more heavily with our puppies over 10 weeks on the place command.
Differences Between 10 and 11 Week Old Puppies With Regard to Heeling
- There is considerable improvement in the heeling and loose-leash walking from 10 to 11 weeks. Our 10 week old puppies know how to find heel position when stationary and they know how to move at heel for one, two, and three steps inside our training room. These skills will give families the ability to get their puppies back in heel position when they get out. These puppies will be given a fantastic foundation and we will provide new families with the tools and the training to be able to continue the heeling and focused loose-leash walking that we start.
- However, 10-week old puppies will lack the skills to maintain focus (especially in distracting environments) while moving for more than a few steps without reward. Ten week old puppies are worked with almost exclusively inside our training room where there are little to no distractions. Eleven-week old puppies will have been worked with outside on our very long driveway starting at 10 weeks of age.
Summary of the Differences Between Picking Up at 12 1/2 Weeks Verses 11 Weeks
Here is a summary of the differences between our 12 1/2 Weeks Program and our 11 Weeks Program.
- Puppies begin sleeping at night in crates at our home right at 12 weeks. Prior to 12 weeks, they have free access to get themselves out a doggy door overnight. However, because of the crate work we do with puppies during the day, our 10 and 11 week old puppies transition to sleeping at night in a crate very well also.
- 12 1/2 week old puppies can hold it longer overnight. Most can hold it for a 6-7 hour night. 11 week old puppies on average can hold it for about 5-6 hours at night.
- The longer puppies are left with us, the longer they can hold their potty during the daytime as well.
- 12 1/2 week old puppies can stay in a down position for longer periods of time and under greater distractions. We can also move further away from them both on and off the place bed. Distractions at 12 weeks include our putting food on the floor in front of them. We train them to ignore the food while maintaining the stay.
- Our 12 1/2 week old puppies are taught to sit from a down. We also begin teaching them a sit/stay at 11 weeks of age. However, because it has only been started a week prior to leaving, puppies are only worked with in a sit/stay at a distance of 5 feet. Down/stays are at longer distances and for longer durations (about 15 feet for 5-10 seconds).
- Starting at 10 weeks, we work more heavily with getting our puppies acclimated to entertaining themselves alone with bones, bully sticks, toys, and/or antlers. Then once they love it (starting just after 11 weeks), we work with them on what we call the “Give and Take Game”. This game conditions them to want to give things to people. It also prevents resource guarding.
Differences Between our 11 Week and 12 1/2 Week Old Puppies With Regard to Outside Work
- Our 12 1/2 week old puppies do their obedience exercises in various places around our neighborhood. This includes close to a busy highway. 11 week old puppies train only in locations on our property (inside and out). However, we will take all puppies for rides in our van. Weather permitting, we also take them on rides in a 4-wheel drive vehicle. We will also acclimate all puppies to the sites and sounds in our busy home and outside on our property.
- We work more heavily with our puppies over 11 weeks on the place command. This includes work on a pad that is small enough to be taken on outings.
Additional Training For 16 Week Old Puppies
- More dependable house and crate training. House training is still not complete and 16-week old puppies still have small bladders and need to be taken out often.
- More dependable sit/stay and down/stay training. The older the puppy, the longer they can stay, the further you can back away from them, and the more distractions they are able to remain successful under.
- More socialization experiences. We take these puppies to a wider variety of places off of our property.
What You Can Expect From a Summer Brook Trained Puppy in More Detail
Below is detailed discussion along with video examples of how and what we train.
With the exception of the long heeling of the puppies coming up our driveway, the video below gives a good representation of how the puppies in our 12 Weeks Plus program heel. However, keep in mind as is mentioned in the video that the puppies that were heeling for long distances up our driveway were exceptional and not the norm. In addition, most puppies will still have some issues with sitting crooked and heeling crooked. You can’t see this as much from the side as is pictured in this video. If we had videoed the puppies coming towards us, you might have noticed it more. Training straight sits and straight heeling takes months to train. Still, the heeling that our 12 1/2 week old puppies do is quite impressive and the heeling that you see with the puppies going back and forth is very typical.
Many of our 11 week old puppies will heel like these puppies heel. However, there is a larger percentage of 11 week old puppies that struggle with staying in position than at 12 weeks.
A Couple of Heeling Videos Depicting our 12 /12 Weeks Heeling Program
This next video is a more recent litter heeling. It also gives a good idea as to how our puppies heel at 12 1/2 weeks.
The puppies in the above videos are much younger than 12 weeks. However, the older puppies are, the more consistent they are with heeling. These puppies are heeling like most of our 12 week old puppy would heel. However, at only 9 1/2 weeks of age as the puppies are in above video, this heeling is not consistent. In fact, many of our 11 week old puppies will have training sessions where they forge ahead and heel much more crooked than the above puppies are demonstrating.
Long Walks and Heeling
The focused heeling that we teach our puppies is by no means sustainable for long walks or jogging at this young age. We encourage families to alternate between periods of training and free time to explore surroundings when taking puppies on walks. A very important part of puppy socialization is letting them figure out the world at their own speed. You can see our post on Socialization for more information on this topic. This page has a video of three almost 12-week old puppies learning to heel alongside a busy highway.
Expectations With Regard to Frequency of Rewards When Heeling
We don’t ask puppies to repeat long heeling patterns more than once or twice in a row. In a typical training session, we reward a bit more often than is exemplified in these videos. Our primary goal is to create puppies that want to work with a person. Rewarding heavily in the beginning and gradually moving our reward frequency from consistent to random is key. Our puppies work like this because they think their reward could come any time. Therefore, we sometimes reward our puppies for just sitting there, sometimes after one or two steps, and then we occasionally throw in a long sequence as pictured on these videos.
The heeling you see in the videos below depicts the focus our puppies have on a fairly regular basis. However, if asked to perform heeling for long periods of time without sufficient rewards, their performance will significantly begin to decline. At this age, we practice the heeling exercises for short durations often. Rewards sometimes come after only one step.
Frequency of Rewards Reduced
We ask for longer sequences more often the longer we keep puppies. When keeping a puppy for over 6 months, we do away with the rewards altogether and take our puppies for not only walks, but for jogs as well (old lady jogs, not runs!). Our expectation is for them to stay in reasonably good position (no more than about 1/3 of a body length in front of us). If they should get ahead we take a step or two backwards and tell them “right here” pointing just behind us on our right side. There is no need to pop a leash. We get them back in position far before they reach the end of the leash. Then, we don’t move forward again until they are in good position.
We go over these details regarding moving forward with the training on puppy pick up day.
Heeling and Stationary Exercises Videos for Puppies in Our 12 1/2 Week Program With Heeling
We train several stationary exercises, all of which help teach puppies to find and stay in heel position. The “right here” command, in particular is very valuable. When told “right here”, puppies will get in position at our right side. We use this command to get puppies in initial position as well as to correct position when puppies should get in front of us. We also train our puppies to the stationary exercises depicted and described in the video below.
The videos below show puppies from two different litters practicing these stationary exercises. I discuss why we teach these stationary exercises in the first video as the puppies demonstrate these exercises. In the second video, I give some tips on how to continue the training.
We’ve taught over a 100 puppies to heel and focus. The type focus you see in the above video is typical of what our puppies can do when they leave us. We teach them to focus both while moving and while sitting still. Though some puppies are better than others, all of our puppies love the heeling game. We train all of our puppies to focus on a handler.
The videos of our puppies performing our stationary exercises are a good representation of the level of training we give all of our 12 week old puppies. These stationary exercises give good tools for getting and keeping a puppy in heel position. These exercises are new to the Summer Brook program in 2021 and give a valuable tool for keeping a puppy in heel position.
Expectations With Regard to the Stay Exercises
Reliability with the stay exercise comes with time, practice, and age. Success with the stay exercises will also be affected by the energy state of the puppy and by the number of distractions present. We practice the stay exercises in distracting environments, but obviously, we can’t practice everywhere.
Also, puppies this age can’t be expected to be this proficient on a consistent basis if asked to do long stays over and over. Still, though there are mistakes, our puppies do incredibly well for their age. For most puppies, the video above depicts the down/stay on the floor for our 11 Week Program. Puppies at 12 weeks will usually stay while I move away further and for longer. Puppies at 10 weeks will not be able to stay this long or at this far of a distance on a consistent basis. We work our puppies at closer distances most of the time, only throwing in these longer repetitions occasionally.
Unpredictable Distances and Durations
By 12 weeks, puppies work staying in a down position for a full minute or more before being released to get up. Many rewards come at random times and from random distances during this one minute timeframe. We want our puppies to think the reward could come at any time. Being unpredictable is key. We work mostly close up (stepping back only two or three steps and waiting only a second or two). We occasionally back off to 4 or 5 steps from the puppy. Sometimes, we back up only one step. Then toward the end of the training session, we will back up 10 to 15 feet for about 10 seconds. For many puppies, we back off even further. We release the puppy and reward and praise them heavily. Then, we either end the training session or move onto training a different behavior.
The time and distance we work our puppies under 11 weeks prior to releasing them is considerably less.
Our philosophy for training a reliable stay is to work our puppies where we know they will be successful. We occasionally make mistakes and back up too far or stay too long and a puppy will get up and come to us. However, our goal is to always work our puppies at the level where they are successful. We increase the time and the distance very gradually, trying to never raise the criteria above each puppy’s threshold for success.
Big Improvements Come at Older Ages
It is with regard to the stay exercises that there is the most improvement in older puppies. The stay exercises are best taught at close ranges for short periods of time. Most trainers fail to train reliable stays because they ask too much of a puppy too soon. Although our puppies’ stays still need work, their stays are more reliable than most puppies because we work at very close ranges to insure success until a puppy has done 100’s of repetitions. We don’t move a puppy forward until he is very successful with the basics. Therefore, with our typical 10-11 week old puppy, we are primarily working by backing off just a step or two from him for just a second or two. We will occasionally throw in a longer repetition, but these are not the norm.
As puppies get older, the longer stays before the reward comes get to be more often as well as longer. As mentioned, our philosophy of training is built around the idea that puppies need to feel like a reward can come at any time. If stays that are pushing the puppy’s abilities become the norm, the puppy will loose his motivation and his ability to focus on his work.
Difference Between the Stays at 10 Weeks Verses 12 1/2 Weeks
We teach puppies a down/stay on the floor and on a place cot. The difference between the programs is how long the puppies will stay, how far we can move away, and the level of distractions puppies can withstand and remain successful.
Puppies at 12 weeks can usually be successful when I back from them about 6 or 7 times. In those 6 or 7 times, I will usually back up to a distance of up to 15 feet one time. The other times, I will keep my distance down to about 7 or 8 feet. Sometimes, I will stay back only a couple of seconds. Occasionally, I stay away for about 10 seconds.
10 week old puppies can remain successful at only about 1/3 the time and a distance of a little more than 1/3 the distance. Most 10 week old puppies do well at a distance of about 2 feet for 2 seconds if asked to perform repeatedly. They can usually do a distance of 5 feet for 5 seconds occasionally as long as you practice at closer distances more often. The longer stays in the video below can only be performed a couple of times in a row at these young ages. Practicing often at distances where puppies can remain successful is important in building self-control which is our primary goal.
Puppies gain a great deal of self-control between 10 and 12 weeks and they can remain successful at much further distances.
The puppies in the video above are much better than most 10 week old puppies.
Food on the Ground as a Distraction
Starting just before 12 weeks, we drop food around them while they practice their stay exercises.
Occasionally Puppies Just Plain Get Confused and Forget What They are Supposed to Do
Most days puppies will perform as in the above video. However, occasionally all of them will get “stuck” in a state of confusion that must be worked through. The puppies in the above videos did not demonstrate this on the day of the video, but every one of them at some point in time before leaving us had training sessions where they had difficulty in staying still. The younger the puppy, the more often the confusion and lack of self-control.
Expectations With Regard to the Meal Time Routine at 10-11 Weeks
Puppies are dependable with meal time waiting before eating by 10 weeks. They will give eye contact for about 2-3 seconds with a bowl of food sitting in front of them waiting for the release to eat. By 11 weeks, most of them are dependable enough for me to close the crate with the puppy still giving eye contact and not eating the food for a few seconds before I release them to eat. Almost all of them are to that point by 12 weeks.
Expectations With Regard to House Training
You can trust 95% or more of our puppies loose in the house without peeing for an hour or more. I can only remember two puppies needing taking out more often than an hour in the almost 150 puppies that we have trained. Both of these puppies needed to be kept in a small area or taken out every 30 minutes for a few weeks before attaining the bladder control that is the norm for our puppies.
If crated, our 12 week old puppies will hold it for over two hours at a time in the daytime (even those that can’t be trusted loose for long). We don’t recommend crating for longer than two hours unless puppies are asleep. Most can hold it for about 6 hours at night by 12 weeks of age. Many sleep through an 8 hour night by 12 weeks.
Our house training program, like everything we do here at Summer Brook is very meticulously thought out, planned, and “tweaked” as we’ve learned. See our page on House Training for details about this very important aspect of puppy training here at Summer Brook.
Overnight Crate Trainig
Puppies picked up prior to 12 weeks do not sleep overnight in a crate. Rather, they sleep in a small area in our side foyer with free access to potty outside. Since we have doggy door access, we take advantage of this helpful tool for a couple of reasons.
Why the Doggy Door
First of all, the doggy door allows us to gradually build up crate desire before requiring puppies to spend entire nights there. We don’t need to use the crates for forced confinement like most new families will. Puppies accept forced confinement better when it is introduced later. Actually, our puppies don’t even see crate confinement as a negative at all. Because of our slow and gentle introductory process, our puppies look forward to crate times.
The doggy door also allows us to postpone overnight crating until we know that the puppies are able to hold it all night. This prevents those occasional problems with puppies who habitually get their owners up in the night for far longer than is necessary. Habits are easier to prevent than to break. At our home, we never start the get-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night routine to begin with.
Easy Transition to Overnight Crate Training
Though we do not start our puppies in crates overnight unless left until 12 weeks, the daytime work we do with them transfers easily into night time crate training.
When puppies are left with us until they are 12 1/2 weeks, we transition them to the crate for overnight right at 12 weeks. At this age, the majority of our puppies are happy in crates and able to hold their potty for 6-8 hours (most 7-8 hours).
If a puppy changes homes and makes the transition to a crate 1 1/2 weeks earlier when puppies are 11 weeks, the overnight time frame drops to about 6 hours for most puppies. At 10 weeks, some can hold it for 6 hours. Most need to be let out after 4 or 5 hours. None of them should need to be taken out more than once in an 8 hour night.
Expectations With Regard to Building Crate Desire and Increasing Crate Time
We keep our 10 week old puppies in crates for about 20-30 minutes in wire crates at meal times. They are happy while wide awake with special bones or bully sticks that they only have access to during crate times. If families will combine crate times with times that their puppy is sleepy, they will be happy in there for MUCH longer. They will eventually fall asleep after chewing their bones for awhile.
By 12 weeks, puppies are to the point where they will be adjusting their nap times better to a family’s schedule. As long as they’ve had good exercise prior, they will usually chew bones for much longer than 10 week old puppies and will eventually fall asleep during most crate sessions. By 11 weeks of age, our puppies like their crates so much that most will just sit there even when you release them to come out. If you don’t take the bones out of the crates, they don’t want to come out!
We don’t let puppies have free access to crates. Crates are the “forbidden fruit” with the extra special goodies inside. Our puppies’ crate desire grows hugely between 7 and 12 1/2 weeks.
Expectations With Regard to Recalls
We train a conditioned response to a very specific recall. By 11 weeks, puppies are amazingly in-tuned to my voice. Most puppies turn away from distractions and come when called instinctively. By 10 weeks, puppies are well on their way to this same response. We initially train this by heavily treating puppies when we call them at times that they are about to come any way of their own accord. I (Karen) do this many, many times gradually calling them under more and more distracting situations.
We teach new families how to transition this conditioned response from my voice and my tone to their new voice. However, no dog (of any age) will reliably come when called to a total stranger. Though our puppies come to me, most of them do not respond to the “puppy come” of the new family right away. It takes some time for the puppy to make this transition. However, we show you how and if you follow our instructions, the transition should be quick (a couple of days).
The recall becomes more and more solid the longer families leave puppies with us. However, for it to remain solid and heavily motivational, families must continue to heavily reward it for several more months.
Expectations With Regard to Focus and Work Ethic
All of our puppies like to work and have incredibly good focus at 10 and 11 weeks. They all actively try to figure out what it is you want. We easily transfer that skill from us to you. We spend considerable time at puppy pick-up time showing families how to work with their puppy.
Loss of Focus is Not the Norm For Our Puppies
Though our puppies sometimes confuse the position (sit or down) that they are being asked to stay in, it is not the norm for our puppies to loose focus, walk off, and blow us off. Creating a desire to work and focus is what we do best!
Luring is Not Necessary
Puppies will sit and down with only a hand motion and a verbal command (both together) right at 10 weeks. Luring is not necessary. In fact, our philosophy of training is to show the treat to the puppy only AFTER the behavior has been performed. Puppies who are consistently shown a treat before doing what is asked will never learn to successfully work when treats are no longer the norm.
No Popping Up to Grab the Treats
Puppies will repeat the sit/stay and down/stay exercises several times before being released (usually about 10 times at 10 weeks). In other words, we work with puppies to continue to stay in position while we return to reward them without popping up between rewards.
We teach puppies not to take the treat until the “yes” marker word is given. By 10-weeks, we train our puppies not to jump up to try and grab the treat before the exercise is finished. We train this by waiving food in front of them. We tempt them to jump up and take it before being released to take the food. This forces them to learn to maintain self-control until they are released to take the food. Puppies occasionally forget and pop up, but it is not the norm.
Our goal with puppies prior to 10-weeks is consistency at short distances. We begin adding distance, duration, and distractions after the 10-week mark.
All puppies are socialized and had environmental desensitization training at our home and on our property. We take all puppies on car rides. We take them on mule rides as well. Our mule is an off-road vehicle, not an animal! These mule rides are weather permitting. The mule is open and winter weather will sometimes prohibit us from these rides.
The mule rides are super environmental desensitization experiences. On these mule rides, we expose puppies to a wide variety of roads, neighborhoods, sights, and sounds. In addition, the experience of the mule itself is valuable. The mule is loud and sometimes a little bumpy. It is a great way to acclimate puppies to sounds. It is also rougher than any car ride they would likely ever experience.
Our mule rides are super desensitization opportunities. They sit in a lap and enjoy being petted. They stick their noses in the air and smell all kinds of new smells. While they are enjoying the breeze, they hear all kinds of new sounds. They see a whole new world of different sights.
We take puppies in our 12 1/2 week programs on field trips where they work on their obedience exercises on a leash in addition to the mule rides. If it is too cold to go in the mule, we’ll take them in our van. These field trips are to various places within 1/2 mile of our home. The field trips include working them in locations gradually closer to a busy highway. We do not take them to public parks and stores at this time for safety reasons. See our Socialization page for an explanation and a video.
Expectations With Regard to Jumping
Our puppies are trained to sit for attention from us. They do occasionally forget to sit when they are excited. We simply ignore it and within a few seconds, they will sit. We never pet a jumping puppy who is over 6 weeks of age and it gradually fades.
However, we have a lot of guests and just like our puppies sometimes forget to sit, our guests also sometimes forget to ignore a jumping puppy. Therefore, our puppies are much more consistent with us. They quickly learn who they can jump on and still get attention and who they can’t. They same will hold true of you.
Your puppy might very well test the jumping waters. If you occasionally pet your puppy when he jumps, he’s going to be inclined to continue jumping. However, if you will be consistent in ignoring the jumping, the jumping will quickly go away.
Expectations with Regard to Chewing
All puppies have a need to chew. The challenge is to teach a puppy what is acceptable to chew and what is not. We encourage families to simply keep things that are not appropriate to chew away from your puppy and to redirect him to what is appropriate. It takes time for a puppy to learn what is his to chew and what is off limits. Creating good habits is key.
Expectations with Regard to Mouthing
We don’t let our puppies over 7 weeks put their mouths on us (period). We pet them in such a way that they cannot physically get their mouths on us. Redirecting a puppy’s mouth to a toy is another good way to stop mouthing. By the time puppies leave us, very few even think about mouthing a person.
However, while here, our puppies have their need to play bite met with litter-mates. The greatest majority of our puppies continue to not mouth people at all. However, some puppies are more mouthy than others by nature and might occasionally try to play with a family member with their mouths. We encourage families to simply redirect them to a toy or to pet them in such a way that the puppy can’t get to your arm to bite it. This play biting happens most frequently with active children. Puppies simply often put rougher children in the same category as litter-mates.
As a side-note, if you are reading this and getting a puppy from another breeder earlier than 10 weeks, young puppies NEED to play bite with either another dog or a person until they are at least 9 or 10 weeks. Otherwise, they won’t develop good bite inhibition. Our puppies have this need met with littermates. Therefore, we are able to implement a “no biting humans” rule earlier than families without another dog.
Differences Between Puppies
Every puppy in a litter will not be equally proficient in all aspects of training. As a general rule, the more independent puppies do better with crate training. The calmer puppies have an easier time with the stay exercises. The more active puppies will have more difficulty with charging forward in heeling. However, these same active puppies usually end up being the best heelers once they’ve gained the self-control necessary to slow themselves down. The more dependent puppies do better on recalls.
Every puppy has his or her own set of strengths and weaknesses. We don’t push our puppies to perform well. Rather, we focus on building internal attributes: confidence, self-control, focus, and a love of working with a person. Working well and performing well at young ages is not our primary goal. Our job as trainers is to create an environment where our puppies can develop to their own maximum potential.
Day to Day Differences
In addition to differences between individual puppies, there are differences in the same puppy from one day to the next and even from one training session to the next in the same day. Most of the time, puppies improve and move forward in their training from one day to the next.
However, it is an up and down process, with two steps forward and then one step back, one or two good training sessions and then a puppy will have a day where he can’t seem to control his energy. He pops up repeatedly during the stay exercises or he can’t seem to control himself to keep from charging out in front of you on the heeling exercises. Sometimes there are training sessions whereby a puppy seems unmotivated or tired.
Expects ups and downs when you get home with your puppy. However, remember that with consistency in training, your puppy’s ups will be more frequent than his downs!
Early Pick-Up for Trained Puppies
We recommend that families pick up their puppies right at 11 weeks or 12 weeks 3 days depending on the level of training you are paying for. However, you can pick up one or two days early if necessary. We will double up on the obedience training in order to try to get your puppy to the same level with regard to obedience training as those puppies staying the full number of recommended days. The price is the same whether you pick up on your puppy’s weekly birthday or a day or two or even three days earlier.
If you are flying in or driving long distances and need to spend the night in town, we suggest flying in early and scheduling your appointment with us the day prior to 11 weeks or 12 weeks 3 days. We’ll go over the training, introduce you to the parents of your puppy and the rest of the litter, and answer any questions you have. Then you’ll leave your puppy with us overnight and do what we call a “quick pick up and go” early the next morning.
We schedule appointments for visits, instructions, and picking up puppies every 2 hours starting at 9:00 a.m. There is time for four appointments per day. When we have Daylight Savings Time, we can do a fifth appointment at 5:00 p.m. However, for those having appointments the day prior, any number of families can do a “quick pick up and go” prior to our first appointment at 9:00 the day after your appointment.
Why We Recommend Not Picking Up Too Early
Although we can double up on the obedience training and make considerable progress with most puppies, it is best to leave your puppy as long as possible for a couple of reasons.
First of all, some areas of training are more age-dependent than others. Bladder control is one of those areas. Also, building crate desire cannot be rushed.
In addition, some puppies are less mature at earlier ages and therefore have more difficulty with some of the obedience exercises at younger ages. A more mature brain just “gets it” better.
One (or maybe two) days early won’t matter much. However, every day puppies are gaining maturity. If you are considering picking up your puppy more than three days early, there will be a difference.
More Information on our Trained English Golden Retriever Puppies
For more information, see our How We Raise Our Puppies page and our Trained Puppies page. Also, see our page on the Summer Brook Training Time Line for what we teach at different ages. If you reserved a Summer Brook puppy before we made our 2022 changes, here is a copy of our Old Expectations page.