The Focused Puppies Training Program - Shaping Puppies to Focus and Think

The video below is of Oliver, a 9 week 6 day old 2018 Molly/Luke puppy doing obedience here at Summer Brook Acres. Oliver is already in his new home but this video shows a typical 10 week old puppy in training here and explains some of what and how we train. Scroll down for more details and for a link to videos of many more puppies we have trained in the past.

We are possibly looking for a guardian family for a couple of our girls. See our Guardian Homes page for more information. We don't have any puppies trained and available currently, but we have one male reservation for our Piper/Micah litter born on December 19 and are offering training up until 11 weeks of age. See our Current Litters page for more information on Piper's litter or scroll down to find more information on our training program including links to many video examples from past litters.

For most of our litters, we offer training up until 10 to 10 1/2 weeks of age and feel that this is the ideal age for puppies to change homes if a breeder has the time and skill to start intensive one-on-one training before 8 weeks. If we won't be having another litter when these puppies are in training, we will sometimes keep puppies for up to 12 weeks. We will also occasionally keep back a puppy from an exceptional litter and train them to higher levels. We won't be advertising these puppies until we see how they are progressing in their training and can post a video on our site.

What distinguishes our training programs from the training provided by most is the focus our puppies have on a handler as you can see by looking at videos of our puppies in training. The very first thing we teach a puppy is to have and to enjoy having eye contact with a person before we even think about training particular behaviors. Many (in fact, almost all breeders') training videos show puppies that are barely paying attention to the handler. This type training will at the best produce puppies that reluctantly follow a handler and their food. For us, the very foundation of our program is teaching puppies to want to look at a handler, focus on them, and to think about what they need to do in order to please the handler and get a reward. Our teaching methods are built on marker training and shaping instead of luring and leash pressure. Luring is simply having a puppy to get into a position by following a treat. Leash pressure is pulling (or some trainers advocate popping or jerking) a leash. We will occasionally use luring and leash pressure but by far most of our training is with shaping. Shaping is a training method that encourages a puppy to want to incrementally figure out on his own the behavior that a handler is wanting to train. It is similar to the hotter/colder guessing game that many children play. We wait until a puppy starts to move in the direction of doing what we want and reward as he gets closer to the desired behavior expecting more and more from him as he progresses. Though shaping takes more time initially to train than traditional luring types of methods, the results are far better and longer lasting. We use treats but in a different way from lure-based trainers. Treats are not used as lures and bribes, but rather as rewards. In other words, our puppies are not shown the reward and asked to follow it around to entice them to work. It is only presented after the behavior is done. Puppies are encouraged to actively use their brains in order to engage the handler and to earn the reward. Our primary goal is to create in our puppies a desire to work and focus on a handler. Having puppies that are primarily focusing on the treats themselves is not enough. We want willing and happy working puppies that desire above all to please the handler, not puppies that are obsessively food-focused or even worse puppies that are focused on avoiding a punishment (as is still the case with many of today's trainers).

See our Focused Puppy Program (8-11 Weeks) for details on the training provided at these ages.

See our Training from 10 to 13 Weeks page for details on the training provided at these ages.

See our 10 Week Videos page for video examples of puppies at about 10 weeks of age trained by us in the past.

See our 13 Week Videos page for video examples of puppies at about 13 weeks of age trained by us in the past.

See our 4 Month Videos for video examples of older puppies trained by us in the past. These puppies are not reserved in advanced and our primary goal with these puppies is in preparing them to pass the AKC Canine Good Citizen test (CGC).

Even our 7 1/2 to 8 week old puppies are better trained than most. Starting at about 5 1/2 weeks, they are trained to potty outside by way of a doggy door and are eating in crates. See our Raising Puppies page for information on how we raise our puppies from birth to 8 weeks and also see the Our Home page to see where our puppies are raised.

Who trains the puppies?

I (Karen) do the initial obedience training myself, but we have a team who help keep things running smoothly and who work with puppies on potty training, socializing, and obedience skills already trained. We have three high school girls (2 of which homeschool so can come in the mornings), one high school boy, a house-keeper, and our daughter (until she starts grad school in fall 2018) who all work on a regular basis. Our daughter has been an incredible trainer for many years. In addition to these regular workers, our other daughter often helps on the weekends. Besides having people who are paid to work with us, we also have a good many friends and contacts that visit puppies to make sure that puppies have a wide variety of ages and types of people to interact with.

My training experience includes having trained dozens of puppies (not counting those we place out at 8 weeks) as well as experience in training at high levels in AKC obedience. I've put many obedience titles on several dogs including completing 3 CDX's,and numerous rally titles at all levels. I've won over 2 dozen first places at AKC obedience trials and have received several perfect scores in AKC rally obedience as well as a rally combined high in trial at a very large trial. I've received scores of 197 and 197 1/2 (out of a possible 200) in AKC Open A obedience classes (extremely high scores for this level; in fact scores this high often win High in Trial). I've also successfully trained at the very highest level in AKC obedience: Utility. It is at the Utility level that dogs sniff scented articles out of a pile, do directed retrieves and directed jumping, and do obedience work from a distance (with dog on one side of a ring and handler on the other). Jack and I began training for Utility (UD title). He received his first utility leg at his second weekend of shows. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to complete Jack's utility tile as we placed him in another home two weeks after he received that first leg. See Jack's page on the website to see a couple of videos of him and me competing at a couple of obedience trials.

We are very selective about where our puppies go. Our puppies must go to homes with people who have time for a puppy. We won't place a puppy (even a trained puppy) in a home where everyone works all day 5 days a week. We cannot send a puppy to a home where he or she won't receive hours of love and attention every day.