This page discusses what you can reasonably expect from a Summer Brook trained Golden Retriever puppy. We have made some major changes and improvements to our program starting at the end of 2021. Read on for more details on what kinds of expectations you can have for a future Summer Brook puppy.
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.
- Heeling Exercises including focused heeling and stationary exercises that teach a puppy how to find heel position.
- 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
Summary of the Differences Between the 11 Week and the 12 Weeks Plus Programs
All puppies, no matter when they will be picked up will have training in all areas listed above. However, the level at which puppies will be trained is higher at 12 weeks than 11 weeks. Here is a summary.
- 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 11 week old puppies transition to sleeping through the night in a crate very well.
- 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.
- 11 week old puppies charge forward more when heeling, heel crooked facing you more, and sit crooked facing you more than 12 week old puppies.
- 12 Week Plus puppies can stay in a down position for longer periods of time and at longer distances both on and off the place bed.
- 12 Week Plus puppies do their obedience exercises in various places around our neighborhood including close to a busy highway. 11 week old puppies train only in locations on our property (inside and out). However, all puppies will be taken for rides in our van (and rides in a 4-wheel drive vehicle except in winter) and all puppies will be acclimated to all the sites and sounds in our busy home and outside.
Summary of the Differences in our Early 2021 Training and our Late 2021 Training
We’ve added some additional exercises to our training program starting in late 2021. Training these exercises early has necessitated a change in our training timeline. Therefore, you might notice that our older videos on YouTube show training that is different from what we now offer. Here are the changes.
- Sit/stays are only trained up close in order to create stronger down/stays.
- We’ve added an improved“place” command.
- We’ve added stationary exercises to teach puppies to find heel position when they get out of position.
- Our time-line for training is different. This will cause the heeling training to be trained a little later. This change will put us in a position to where puppies will not be as far along in heeling and therefore not sitting or moving as straight at 11 weeks as they have in the past. Puppies staying for our 12 Weeks Plus program will not be effected in any negative way and in fact the change in timeline will make these puppies more solid in their heeling. 11 week old puppies will possibly also forge more often. (This forging is just being a little out in front. They all tend to like to be a tad in front of you and turn slightly toward you so they can see you better). However, I think most, if not all, families will benefit more from our new exercises than from having straighter sits and heeling. Most people will not be bothered by crooked heeling. Puppies will still be focused. They will still enjoy the work and try hard to stay in good position.
Why We Changed the Heeling Time Line
We made the change in the heeling timeline to more successfully use heeling as a means of building a strong desire to work with and please a person. We’ve better broken down the big job of teaching our puppies to heel into smaller more manageable pieces to keep our puppies successful by making four changes.
First of all, we’re teaching our puppies to find heel position when the handler stays in the same position before asking them to find it while moving. This is the purpose of our stationary exercises.
Secondly, we will be doing fence work for longer than we have in the past. We initially work with our puppies between us and a fence before asking them to maintain heel position without the aid of the fence. (The fence keeps them from heeling too far away from us.)
Thirdly, we’ll be working additional stay exercises in order to build more self-control prior to asking a puppy to keep from forging ahead of us at heel.
Finally, we’ll start teaching the more difficult aspects of heeling at a slightly later age.
All of these changes will make the heeling game more fun, thereby better building a puppy’s desire to work with a person.
Why We Changed Our Stay Exercises
We have done away with our sit/stay at long distances in order to build a stronger down/stay. When a puppy no longer has to remember what position he is being asked to stay in, he can more reliably maintain a stronger down/stay at further distances and for longer periods of time. In addition and most importantly, puppies can be more successful in building self-control at early ages when the exercises are simpler.
We will continue to train our puppies to stay in a sit position. However, if we will be moving away from them more than two or three feet, we will ask them to go into a down first.
What You Can Expect From a Summer Brook Trained Puppy in Detail
Below is detailed discussion along with video examples of how and what we train.
Expectations With Regard to Heeling
Teaching focus and heeling is what we do best. In fact, I have never seen young puppies as focused as ours anywhere. Neither have I seen puppies heeling as well as ours do at these ages. Our puppies aren’t perfect, but they are incredibly good. See the videos below for good examples of what our puppies can do.
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.
A Couple of Heeling Videos
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.
Focused and Learning Good Position
We work on teaching our puppies to stay in position and to give good focus. Our puppies are well on their way to being trained to regulate their speed to stay in position as we slow down and speed up. We teach our puppies to slow down as we do a left turn (which places them on the inside of a circle) and speed up as we do a right turn (which places them on the outside of a circle). We train them to move when we move and to sit when we stop.
Our training includes work towards having puppies to heel straight and sit straight. However, most of them sit crooked at times. Some of them sit crooked more often than straight, especially those puppies leaving us at 11 weeks. The same is true with regard to moving straight. It takes months of work to get consistent straight heeling and straight sits.
We work on speed and direction changes with puppies younger than 11 weeks also, but they make more mistakes.
Transitioning From Heeling Focus on Our Eyes to On Our Left Shoulder for our 12 1/2 Week Program
One of the main tenets of our training program is focus which is best taught with eye contact. We highly reinforce eye contact early in our puppies’ training.
As puppies get proficient at heeling, we begin to shift our own eyes forward to prepare for real world heeling. We also shift our shoulder placement. Initially our left shoulder is slightly back so that we can see our puppy as we help him along. Then as the puppy gets further along in his heeling training, we stop holding our left shoulder back. At this point, our shoulders are squarely facing forward when we move forward.
We begin training the puppies to cue off of our shoulders. When we turn to the right, we move our left shoulder forward. When we turn left, we move our left shoulder back.
Straight and Crooked Sits and Heeling
When we are heeling straight and our shoulders are straight, our puppy can no longer see our eyes.
Therefore, puppies are heavily inclined to want to get out just a tad in front and to crab toward the inside so that they can see our faces. It takes more time than the puppies are with us to re-condition our puppies to begin heeling by looking at our shoulder rather than into our eyes.
As was already mentioned, teaching a straight heel and having a dog to cue off your shoulders takes months. We give our puppies a good start, but it’s only a start. Further, most families don’t really mind a crooked sit. If you do, I hope to have a page with instructions on how to create and maintain a straight sit soon. Even if your puppy is one of those with a straight sit when he leaves us, at some point, he will sit crooked.
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 above videos 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 4-6 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 11 and 12 1/2 Week Programs
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 1/2 week old puppies. Our 11 week old puppies will be able to do these exercises as well. These stationary exercises give good tools for getting and keeping a puppy in heel position. These exercises are new to the Summer Brook program and will be taught early enough for even the 11 week old puppies to be fairly good at them.
Difference Between Heeling at 11 Weeks Verses 12 1/2 Weeks
The heeling aspect of our program is very different depending on which program families choose. Only the 12 Weeks Plus program offers our full heeling training protocol. We’ll start these puppies heeling between us and a fence at 7 weeks of age. We’ll teach them our stationary exercises that help with getting and staying in heel position. Then just before 10 weeks of age, we’ll begin heeling with them off the fence.
Our 11 week old puppies will probably heel much more crooked than our 12 week old puppies when taken off the fence. Many of them will also likely sit crooked. However, even our 11 week old puppies will have focus as they move.
In addition, our 12 week old puppies are not perfect either. However, many people don’t mind the crooked heeling and sits. The puppies in the videos above depict the heeling taught our 12 Weeks Plus puppies.
The biggest problem in teaching heeling is that most puppies instinctively want to charge out in front of you. Then, they turn around and face you. The longer the puppy is with us, the more progress we’ve made toward re-conditioning him to want to face forward and stay beside us.
Expectations With Regard to the Stay Exercises
With regard to the stay exercises, our puppies are not as reliable as they are with heeling. Reliability comes with time 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.
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 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 11 Weeks Verses 12 1/2 Weeks
All puppies will be taught a down/stay on the floor and on two different types of beds. 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. 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.
11 week old puppies can remain successful at a little over half the time and a distance of a little more than half the distance. Puppies gain a great deal of self-control between 11 and 12 weeks.
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
95% or more of our puppies can be trusted loose in the house without peeing for an hour or more. It has been a couple of years since we’ve had a puppy that couldn’t be trusted for at least an hour. I can only remember two puppies needing taking out more often than an hour in the over 100 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.
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 Overnight Crate Training
Puppies begin sleeping at nights in crates at 12 weeks of age. Prior to 12 weeks, they sleep in a pen where they have free access to outside by way of a doggy door. However, all puppies (even prior to 11 weeks) have had sufficient daytime crate training to transition easily to sleeping overnight in a crate in new homes. Many of our 12 week old puppies are happy in their crates for a full 8 hours. Most are happy for 6 hours. There are very few that have a shorter night than 6 hours at 12 weeks.
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. Puppies are trained by 10-weeks 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. All puppies are taken on car rides. Puppies are taken 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.
12 Weeks Plus puppies are also taken 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 other 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.
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.