I wrote this in a thread but I think it's an important topic to bring up because it's something I see people struggle with a lot - the line between honoring the manding behavior and teaching the puppies a discriminative stimulus which indicates that their opportunity for attention/reinforcement/interaction is closed.
First of all, let me get it out that what I am going to say is very GENERAL advice - I would need to actually see any particular puppy to give actual advice about a specific situation. In general, though, there will be times when it is not a particular puppy's turn for attention or interaction, and that puppy will try manding and then escalate to whining, barking, and potentially stress out a lot. What does one do in that situation?
One of the core lessons I want my puppies to learn is "down time" - that is to say, there should be a discriminative stimulus for when their opportunity for attention/reinforcement is closed. I want them to learn that I will let them know when it's their turn, and their turn will come when I decide. Being 12' away and sitting with my back to the pen should be a pretty good indication that it is not the other puppies' turn, and they should learn to chillax. You may have to move further away from the pen, at first, to achieve this, but it's important that the puppies learn to remain calm when one of the others is selected for attention. Huge life skill that will be very useful in the future.
And, for those of you who are not dog trainers, 'ware the extinction burst! When you are sitting that 12' away from the pen with your back to it, you will hear whimpering, whining, and then eventually earsplitting howling and yelping. Your head will be about to burst and you will want to turn around and check and make sure that one of the puppies legs is not being sawed off (because that is what it will sound like), but do not do this. If you have not previously reinforced this yowling behavior by giving the puppy attention at that time, that peaking of noise is an indication that the puppy is about to give up. Unfortunately, if you turn around at that time, you will reinforce in the extinction burst and now you have a super durable behavior. Not what you want.
You seriously might consider having a second person actually watching the puppies to reassure you that nothing is wrong and no one is getting hurt, because it will sound that way.
A real life story regarding this - I bought a Bull Terrier puppy 18 years ago from a breeder. This puppy was awesome and I loved her and she was totally ball-obsessed. I would put her in an empty room with two tennis balls for an hour each day, and she would carry one in her mouth and bat the other one with her feet. Great exercise in the winter months, and kept her out of the older dog's hair. At the end of the session (usually about an hour, but pretty randomly more or less time), I would take the balls from her and put them in a basket on top of the refrigerator and they were now officially out of play. Yes, she whined and pawed and fussed at first, but she quickly accepted that signal that her playtime was over and she would immediately forget about the ball once it was put in the basket on top of the refrigerator.
This dog had a littermate who wound up having an OCD obsession with balls and could never have them taken away from her without losing her mind. The owner of that puppy said they could not take the ball away because, "she just keeps whining and loses her mind and pants" etc. etc. So that dog wound up having a major OCD problem with balls.
Far be it for me to diagnose that situation as I never met the other puppy or the other owners, but it potentially does illustrate the importance of setting boundaries and discriminative stimuli for when certain activities, interactions, or reinforcements are or are not available. Not every dog will wind up having major OCD issues if you fail in this regard, but they very likely will be unpleasant and pushy to live with in some ways. Particularly if you plan any kind of performance career (which is 98% comprised of waiting your turn in some form or another) you really, really, want them to learn to chill out until you indicate it's their turn!
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Sara Young brought great points about how much time a puppy should spend in an ex pen set up and at what point do you take down the set up.
The second question is more straightforward for me so I'll tackle that, first and post about the first one later. We leave the ex pen set up until at least 17 or 18 weeks because we want to make sure puppy has a rabies vaccination on board before we are forced to take the puppy out every time she has to eliminate. If the puppy wakes up in the middle of the night has has to go to the bathroom, we don't want to be taking her out in the dark where we can't do a visual check of the yard for wildlife until after she's vaccinated for rabies (which happens at 16 weeks old, at the earliest). Obviously, this criterion will be very different depending on where you live and what the local disease outlook is, but this works for us.
And to be honest we will sometimes leave it up until they are five months old because fully potty training a puppy requires a commitment of taking them out every hour and getting up a lot in the middle of the night. If we've got multiple puppies that we are running on, we can't deal with the sleep deprivation.
I do love having "Area P" (P for Puppy) in our main living space because we get to be with our puppies without them being underfoot and I'm always sad when it's time to take it down, although I do appreciate having my living room back
I’d like to address early OFF premises socialization. As those of you who have seen Puppy Culture know, Drs Herron and Leal recommend waiting until 7 days past the puppies’ first vaccination to take them off premises for socialization, and that first vaccination must be AFTER the puppy turns 8 weeks old. I am not going to get into a long explanation of the reasons why this is, as that is what Drs Leal and Herron talk about in the film, Puppy Culture - <a href="https://www.puppyculture.com/buy.html?a_aid=5579ebb212aef&a_bid=11110002" target="_blank"><strong>CLICK HERE</strong><br/>To Purchase The Puppy Culture DVD Set</a><img style="border:0" src="http://puppyculture.postaffiliatepro.com/scripts/glaqviq?a_aid=5579ebb212aef&a_bid=11110002" width="1" height="1" alt="" />
There have been a number of posts showing puppies being taken to schools and nursing homes as early as 6 weeks old. Although we respect everyone’s decisions regarding socialization, we are no longer going to post these posts. So many people in this group do not even realize that Puppy Culture is a film and protocols - they think the group IS puppy culture, and when they see these posts they think taking puppies out so early is part of the program. It most definitely is not.
Let me emphasize that I am not taking anyone to task for their socialization choices - in the end it’s always a very personal risk-benefit calculation based on local risk factors that are best evaluated in conjunction with your local veterinary professional. That having been said, we do no do early off premises socialization, and this is why:
1) Disease risk. When you take a puppy into a room with 30 people:
•Who are not known to you,
•Who are not veterinary professionals and do not understand biosafety, and
•Who themselves have been in contact with untold number of people who are similarly unknowledgeable,
You are facing a literally exponential risk of one of those people carrying disease in on their shoes. Even if you asked every 8 year old child or 80 year old person if they had been in contact with a sick dog, do you think they know how to evaluate whether or not a dog is sick, did they follow up with every dog they have been in contact with to see if they got sick afterwards and were only in the incubation period of disease? Did every relative who came to visit them? The guy who drives the food service truck? The cleaning staff? Way, way, to many unknown factors for comfort.
2) Physical Frailty of the puppies. Even if you do nomographs and you feel confident that your puppies still have maternally derived immunity from parvo and distemper, those are only two of hundreds of sicknesses they might get. Just like people, there are always colds and flus, not to mention bacterial infections going around. And what could be harmless and asymptomatic in an adult could kill a puppy. The physical smallness together with the immature immune system of the puppies makes them liable to fall victim to something for which an adult would not even show clinical signs - Just like human infants, something as simple as diarrhea can begin the start of a chain reaction into a quick fatal spiral in a puppy.
3) Lack of control of interactions. Puppy Culture is all about CONTROLLED and CURATED experiences for the puppies. Our mantra is “err on the side of caution.” As we repeat again and again in Puppy Culture, the emotional sensitivity that allows puppies to accept a new person, thing, or experience with one exposure will, in equal measure, allow them to imprint a fear of a new person, thing, or experience. In fact, puppies are probably biased toward imprinting fear as that is an evolutionarily valuable survival trait. Taking a litter of puppies to a group of strangers and passing them around violates this credo in every way - there is not only a risk but a probability that somewhere somehow at some point someone is going to scare or unintentionally harm the puppies. For sure someone will have watched one of the “dog dominator” trainers on TV and either “alpha roll” or press a puppy’s tongue for biting or one of the many other harmful “dog training” moves that will traumatize and scar your puppies. Unless you literally have one person per puppy to supervise interactions, you are taking an unacceptable risk, in our view. In fact, this does not just apply to early socialization experiences, it applies to ALL socialization experiences and every interaction your dog ever has with a human being for the rest of his life. I will re post our “advocate for your dog” post and I hope you all read it and think about it - it applies to your puppies, as well!
Although you (a member in the group) are asking about a very young puppy, this post regarding the influence of experience vs native temperament on very young puppies will be helpful to you.
I do want to make a clarification, which is that the point here is NOT that temperament is infinitely modifiable. For sure, dogs have temperament traits and some are pretty difficult if not impossible to modify AND dogs, like humans, can suffer from a whole host of mental disorders with neurological and physiological basis. BUT many of those traits, especially the more troubling ones do not emerge until later and there are no "smoking gun" markers for them in young puppies.
The only thing we know for sure is that experiences in the first year of life ARE correlated with outcomes and that's what we can control. So, back to your puppy, just keep doing the Puppy Culture protocols because that's what will make a difference :).
We talk about puppy testing in Puppy Culture, but I'd like to talk about a couple of studies that have come out since the film. They confirm what we state in the film - that puppy testing is useful as a diagnostic, but not a predictive tool:
In a recent and fairly deep study early temperament tests were found to little or no ability to predict any adult personality trait with reliability, except for exploratory behavior (The Predictive Value of Early Behavioral Assessments in Pet Dogs:http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article…
What is so very interesting, though, is that around the same time that the above study came out, a study came out that definitively linked experiences in the first year of life will predict the outcome of later temperament tests - for instance, a puppy or young dog being attacked or experiencing aggressive behavior from another dog during the first year of life has a strong correlation to later dog AND human aggression: (Behaviour and Experiences of Dogs During the First Year of Life Predict the Outcome in a Later Temperament Test.
As we say in Puppy Culture, we do still do puppy assessment tests but as a diagnostic tool, not a predictive tool. We are looking at a snapshot in time of these puppies (7 weeks old, in our case) and assessing in what areas we feel those puppies might need additional work before going to their new homes (in our case, at 10 weeks old). So, if we have a puppy with a little more prey drive than we think will be easy for a pet owner to handle, we are going to double down on Attention is the Mother of All Behaviors (using motion as a distraction), and also recalls in the face of something moving. If we have a puppy that demonstrates sound sensitivity, we are going to do some extra work on creating CERs to sounds. But the puppy tests factor little or none into our decisions where and how to place puppies.
I will re-post my post on advocating for your puppy separately
Here is our "Advocate for your puppy" post that I referred to in the last two posts...
The really sad situation with Lauren E. Dukes puppy raises the question of what it means to advocate for your puppy or dog. We tried really hard in Puppy Culture to empower puppy owners and give them a “talk track” when confronted with a professional or a person of authority who is advocating using force or aversive tactics with their puppy. I’m going to speak plainly but I don’t want this to be hurtful to anyone who has had a bad experience with their puppy. I do want to change the conversation from us being the victims with our puppies to being our puppies’ advocates. This acknowledges that, as of right now, it’s just not common knowledge to do this so I’m trying to raise awareness, not taking anyone to task.
1. Even the MOST experienced dog owners feel pressure when confronted by a person in a position of authority, such as a veterinarian, dog trainer, or professional handler. You need to have a talk track ready. I tell my puppy owners to blame it on me and tell them “I signed a contract with my breeder stating I would not do that so we’re not going to do it” But the important thing is to be ready to walk away.
2. When you are with your puppy or dog, do not EVER be worried about what people think of you socially. That includes not looking at and or/ignoring people who are trying to talk to you as well as literally walking away from bad advice or someone trying to touch your dog. It feels awkward, at first, but you will get used to it and it will start to feel REALLY GOOD when you do the right thing by your puppy.
3. Perhaps most importantly (and least recognized,) is our duty to foresee situations that could put our puppy in harms way. Justifiably, when one of these incidents happen we all rally round and support the puppy owner and talk about what jerks those other people are, but so what. You may be “right” but you’re the one holding the leash of a puppy who’s now messed up. Here are just a couple of examples of very common and eminently avoidable incidents that dog trainers hear about on a weekly basis:
”Another dog jumped/attacked him in training/agility/obedience class.” It happens EVERY DAY. By the time I write this post there will be another dog who’s been screwed up and now needs a year of remedial work. The owner will post all the details and everyone will agree and shake their fist but they are all missing the point - this is predictable and could have been avoided. My answer to this is do not go to a training class where dogs are off leash together. Period. I don’t do it unless the other dogs are personally known to me. And socialization classes should be for young puppies only, and they should follow all of Dr. Terri Bright’s guidelines in Puppy Culture. Maybe after my dogs are over three years old, I might go to a group class where I trust the instructor, but it’s always assumption of the risk and I am on high alert at all times. Side note: I run my agility classes one dog at a time (exceptions are made for dogs that know each other) and in my dog training seminars my mantra is “The Dog On The Floor Has The Floor” and all other dogs MUST be crated. Not everyone likes it but I’m opting for safety.
”Another dog jumped/attacked him when out for a walk.” Again, fists will be shaken at “those idiots” who let their dogs off leash and do not have control, and yes, verily, they are idiots and hateful and it’s all their fault, but it’s totally predictable to the point where you almost have to take some responsibility for putting your puppy in that position. I do not take my young dogs for walks anywhere where there is the possibility of people having dogs off leash. So, for the first year or two of their lives, they are walked on show grounds, at agility trials, rally/obedience trials - anywhere where “professional” dog people are. Then, when I feel they’re ready to start longer walks and hikes (usually around 15-18 months) my rule is we only walk on trails where there are actual mountainous parts where you have to scramble with your hands to get up the hill. This keeps the palookas away.
Flat trails and walks on the sidewalk past the inevitable dog that rushes (or breaks through) the invisible fence are never for some of my dogs, not until they are over three years old for the really rock solid ones. Your dog does not need a walk at the expense of becoming aggressive to other dogs because he had a bad experience.
•”The vet/tech/trainer scruffed/alpha rolled my puppy” A couple of things, here. Number one, watch again Dr. Terri Bright’s checklist for a puppy class. Stick to it. If you can’t find a suitable class, just get together with friends and train on your own. It’s not rocket science and there are great on-line resources. Number two, never hand the leash to anyone, ever. One of my friends was bringing three older puppies in to the vet for various things and she had the techs bring one puppy in for her. The puppy jumped on the tech and the tech alpha rolled the puppy, my friend lost her sh*t on the tech, and one of the other clients in the lobby yelled at my friend for “spoiling” her puppy and said the tech was right, and a verbal brawl ensued. Yes tech+client=a couple of jerks but it’s predictable to the point of, once again, being a "shame on me" for letting someone else have the leash. The real lesson is that you never hand your puppy over to anyone. Bring in one puppy at a time or roll them in on a dolly in crates.
I could go on and on all day and maybe someday I will, but the first step in advocating for our puppies is to let go of some of the notions of what is necessary and good for our puppies. You 100% do need to train your puppy, but you don’t have to do it in a class. You 100% do have to socialize your puppy to other animals, but you can set up your own sessions. You 100% do need to take your puppy to the vet, but you can and should walk out of any vet’s office that is not willing to create a +CER to vet visits by giving your puppy cookies and treating them well. You 100% do have to bring all of your puppies to the vet, but if the vet is not willing to wait for you to bring them in one at a time and you can’t bring them in on a dolly in a crate, find another vet.
And yes, all this having been said, it absolutely can happen no matter what you do. And that’s where we hope that our early foundation work with emotional resilience will kick in and serve the puppy. But, make no mistake, it’s very, very, hard to undo these bad experiences in young dogs/puppies. As we say again and again in Puppy Culture, the emotional sensitivity that allows for the socialization process cuts both ways and will allow the puppy to imprint a bad experience as readily, even more readily, than a good one. So always err on the side of caution
We get so many questions about manding and I'd like to add this further clarification because people tend to get confused about Manding because it involves a "sit" behavior:
Manding vs Automatic Sit:
The mand is a forward communication from the puppy to you.
The automatic sit is a top down rule placed on the puppy.
So the mand is the CONCEPT is that it is POSSIBLE to get something the puppy wants by manding.
Automatic sit AKA "sit politely for petting" is a RULE is that the puppy MUST sit to access desired social contact or other pleasurable things, like food. Night and day :)
The difference is profound and goes to the core of the "culture" in Puppy Culture.
This topic came up at the seminar this weekend so thought I'd re-post :).
Great question by Monica Turner Mcpherson and I felt it was a great question and worth answering in a new thread - she asked:
"My question is about the fear period between 8 and 9 weeks. Puppy Culture (<a href="https://www.puppyculture.com/buy.html?a_aid=5579ebb212aef&a_bid=11110002" target="_blank"><strong>CLICK HERE</strong><br/>To Purchase The Puppy Culture DVD Set</a><img style="border:0" src="http://puppyculture.postaffiliatepro.com/scripts/glaqviq?a_aid=5579ebb212aef&a_bid=11110002" width="1" height="1" alt="" />
) mentions that pups can hit it at different times within the litter and that it could potentially last as little as a few minutes. So, how would anyone know if a particular pup is past that point if they weren't there to witness those few minutes?"
Monica, you've put your finger on one of the central challenges in raising puppies - In direct answer to your question, you really don't know except to keep watching and making a judgement call as you go along. Right now, there is very little hard data on fear periods (the only actual study that I know of was done in the mid- 20th century) so most of what we know about fear periods is breeder-reported information. At the end of the day, we are always guessing to some degree, based on past experience with our breed and lines.
The good news is you can never go wrong by watching for behavioral markers - two things:
1. In general, regardless of age or developmental period, puppies should never be scared and never show more than a slight startle and recovery when faced with something new or challenging. If they're showing more than that, back off the challenge and work with them using standard operant conditioning and counterconditioning procedures.
2. IF, however, the puppy shows a strong fear reaction to something they have seen many times before (as opposed to something "new"), that's your "tell" that they are in a fear period, so even more caution is warranted. You can still work with them as described above, but you want to ramp any new novelty challenges way back to stay under fear threshold. Off campus trips are a bad idea during this time, and you may want to keep their environment familiar and not introduce new challenges. New training challenges are always good, although I have seen puppies have a difficult time working outdoors even in a familiar area during a fear period.
When we finish the workbook and create the online version (which will be an application), we will be able to collect data from thousands of litters (participation will be voluntary and optional) and we will get a much better idea of fear period patterns, especially as they vary from breed to breed. BUT!!! all this will do is help us GUESS when we might need to be cautious and predict what challenge and novelty MIGHT be OK at what time. At the end of the day the ONLY metric anyone will ever have to know when fear periods come and go is observation (until they invent a hand held brain scan ;)).
And, just to muddle it more, puppies can present transitory manifestation of behaviors on the fear spectrum, from social uncertainty through terror, until social maturity, which is usually around 3-4 years old. Indeed, a recent study found that frightening experiences in the first year of life had a high correlation with both human and dog aggression as adults. And those fear periods just pop up like potholes - there is very little consistency from breed to breed or puppy to puppy.
But that 8 week-ish fear period, in our observation, is really much stronger and my theory is that the brain is still wired to favor classical over operant conditioning - that is to say, puppies in the critical socialization period are hard wired to imprint emotional experiences virtually permanently in only one exposure. And the "job" of the brain when puppies are first becoming mobile and able to wander from the nest is to imprint fear and caution. So this is all natural and a good thing, not a fault in the puppy's personality that you should worry about :). Hope this long explanation helps!
I would like to review the difference between fear and startle recovery. Startle recovery looks like the puppies in the three week old section of the film when we are dropping books and bowls and such. Startle recovery also looks like Betty Pork N Beans when we dropped the leopard tote bag on the floor in the five week section. Startle recovery is a very specific thing - it's a reflex that some postulate does not even go through the brain. It's a quick, involuntary movement - almost looks like the puppy is being jerked on a string - after which the puppy immediately continues on with his business.
Fear has a completely different topography. It's behavioral manifestations include shaking and voluntary movements like maintaining a crouched position, retreating, etc. Fear is a sustained emotional state that USUALLY appears around 5 weeks old BUT recent studies have proven an up to 16 day difference in the onset of fear behavior.
As we mention again and again in the film, your puppies will dictate what protocol you should be doing when. I am going to say that again:
Your puppies will dictate what protocol you do when.
Please grapple this to your heart with hoops of steel. You should NEVER be frightening your puppies. If a protocol produces a fear response in your puppy, it is the wrong protocol for that puppy at that time. Your litter could vary as much as 16 days from the puppies in Puppy Culture. That is why we gave you behavioral markers, not dates, to determine the correct start and stop times for protocols.
Please, everyone, watch the 3 and 5 week sections again - we give you perfect visuals to guide you as far as what is an appropriate and an inappropriate response. Yes, our puppies are 3 and 5 weeks in those sections but yours might be 3 and 4 or 3.5 and 6 when they show similar responses. The important thing, as we say again and again in the film (sorry to harp) is that you look at each puppy in each litter, and make a determination what developmental period that particular puppy is really in.
If you get to a place where your puppy is showing high levels of fear, handle it just as we handle Rocco in the 5 week section, and Amelia in the 8 week section. If a puppy has a generalized fear, still do this. Take some very small thing that he is afraid of and shape him. It will bring a generalized sense of self-efficacy that will manifest in increased overall confidence.
Your protocols should always be shifted in favor of not causing harm - so if you have ONE puppy in an early fear period, you need to back off of startle recovery for the entire litter. You only have to do startle recovery once or twice for it to have effect so you can certainly get your protocol done for almost any litter and not butt up against a fear period.
Finally, let me add that some dogs just do have a genetic disposition to sound sensitivity and fear. You can knock the edges off of it, you can help the dog grow up to be a dog that can cope, you can make a BIG difference. But Puppy Culture does not mean that every puppy born will grow up to be the most confident dog in the world. But it does mean he will grow up to the be the most confident dog he can be :)
Hope this helps!
It seems that there is some confusion and I'd like to clarify the difference between adult dogs "shaping" vs "correcting" puppies in the 3-12 week age range.
An adult shapes a puppy by withholding reinforcers until the puppy offers a "winning" behavior. Augie is a super shaper.
If a puppy gets rough with him, he stops moving. If the puppy persists, he sits. If that doesn't work, he lies down. If the puppy is still at it, he lays down flat like a dead mule. This always works. After a couple of perfunctory pounces, the puppy pauses and takes a breath. The second that happens, Augie jumps up and engages with the puppy.
Esme, the Pit Bull who shapes Puppy K students in Puppy Culture is another great example. She ignores and removes herself from annoying puppies and, once they settle own, she offers up play behaviors. In the film, Dr Brighttalks about how profound and amazing this is to watch Esme shape a puppy with poor or no play skills into a champion play companion.
Billy the Cattle dog would brandish a toy in front of puppies and allow them to put their mouths on it if they approached respectfully. The second the puppies were out of line, the toy was out of reach. The second they calmed down, the toy was presented to the puppy again. Admittedly, Billy used some pretty strong body language and vocalization to let them know when the toy was out of play, but it was in the context of a carefully planned shaping session. By all appearances he was completely invested in puppies learning social skills and would plan out his sessions as carefully as any professional dog trainer.
In all three of these cases, the puppies learned that calm play behavior is how they access social interaction. The behavior of calm play was been learned. They now had a plan - whenever they wanted access to social interaction, they knew how to get it.
In contrast, when an adult "corrects" a puppy, it does not teach the puppy how to access social reinforcers. It only suppresses whatever the puppy was doing. It does not give the puppy a plan for how to access social interaction, it gives the puppy a plan for how to avoid the aversive of a correction. It will take many, many, corrections until the puppy learns by the process of elimination what narrow range of behaviors will allow the puppy to access social reinforcers, and every correction is creating a poor CER to adult dogs. In contrast, a good puppy shaper can teach the puppy in one session what behavior leads to social interaction, and there is no unpleasant CER connected with the puppy's interaction with the adult.
I want to stimulate you to think about the important distinction between corrections and shaping; whether they are administered by a human or a dog, they work exactly the same way. And adult dogs that shape puppies are worth their weight in gold as teachers because the puppies actually learn new behaviors :).
Finally, The discussion here is about the value of finding good shapers for your puppies to interact with. I am most explicitly not opening up the floor to whether or not corrections are necessary or beneficial in the long run - this post is NOT meant to postulate that corrections from adult dogs ARE or ARE NOT "bad" or un-useful. A discussion of what corrections are and when they are beneficial or not is a deep and interesting discussion but we will not be opening it here - we will be deleting any comments or discussion of the virtues or lack thereof of corrections.
I've gotten several PMs lately from folks who are getting a puppy and wanting to know if Puppy Culture is for them - the answer is YES! Here is our Puppy Owner's Guide to Puppy Culture:
"My puppy is only 8 weeks old (or younger) - is Puppy Culture for me?"
Not only is Puppy Culture for you, there’s a special advantage to starting early with puppies. You’ll see in the film that many of the lessons are demonstrated by puppies as young as 4 weeks old, because puppies learn certain things fastest and most easily in the first 12 weeks of life.
"My puppy is older than 12 weeks - is Puppy Culture for me?"
The science based training and protocols in Puppy Culture puppy owner’s playlist are perfect for puppies of all ages, and it’s never too late to get off on the right foot!
"Why are some of the lessons demonstrated by 4 week old puppies - are these lessons are only for small puppies?"
The exercises in your playlist are for puppies of all ages. The reason you see very small puppies demonstrating things is that, as breeders, we introduce things much earlier than you have an opportunity to. But the process is the same, whether your puppy is 4 weeks old or 6 months old.
"How long is the Puppy Culture Essentials Playlist?"
The Puppy Culture Essentials playlist is 30 lessons, for a total run time of 2 hours and 34 minutes. In addition, we’ve provided a fourth “recap” disc, that gives you an approximately 45 minute summary of the lessons in a list format, with additional details and instructions.
"I notice that there’s an additional hour of material in the film that’s not in the Essentials Playlist. Can I just buy the Essentials?"
Puppy Culture is presented in a unique “teachumentary” format. We filmed one litter as we raised and trained them, and then followed up with those puppies over the next three years so you could see the incredible long-term results.
Rather than creating two entirely separate films of the same process - one for puppy owners and one for breeders, we released one film in context, and priced it inexpensively so that it would be a great value for puppy owners.
You can choose to watch or not to watch the additional chapters that are not included in the Essentials Playlist - either way it’s a superb value!
The only complaint that we’ve gotten from puppy owners is that they like the entire film so much that they “binge-watch” it and can’t stop!
"Are there other breeders/rescue fosters who raise puppies with the Puppy Culture program?"
Yes! If you have the good fortune to be buying or rescuing a puppy from a Puppy Culture breeder or rescue/foster home, you’re in luck. A great foundation has already been laid in for your puppy, and now you just have to follow through with what he’s already learned. You can access our worldwide breeder directory here: https://www.puppyculture.com/breeder-location-map.html
"But what if my puppy wasn’t raised by a Puppy Culture breeder/rescue foster? Can I still use Puppy Culture to raise my puppy?"
Even if your puppy did not come from such a luxuriously advantaged background, you’re still in luck. The research shows that puppies can still enjoy huge neurological and emotional benefits from the protocols in the Puppy Culture program, even into adulthood.
OK one more thought from the Workbook. Everyone talks about cues, but how many people realize that for every cue there has to be a release? Teaching a good release is the root of any solid behavior, as much as teaching a cue. If the puppy understands exactly when he’s free to end a behavior (attention, sit, down, heeling, etc.), he won’t be guessing when it’s over. Do I have to tell you that his guess will very rarely match your expectation?
In our observation, much of what people perceive as puppies “blowing them off” or “not having good attention span” probably has more to do with not understanding when you expect a behavior to start and finish.
We consider teaching a solid verbal release to be a bonus protocol for breeders, but a “must” for every puppy owner – preferably introduced before the puppy is 12 weeks old!
It's a good idea to do at least one appointment with the vet just to say hi and get some cookies. No exams, no shots - just get up on the exam table and get some cookies and cuddles.
We call it the "Happiness Vet Visit." You'll probably have to pay for the visit but that's fine - in fact, many vets are beginning to offer this as a service.
Any veterinarians in the group who are currently offering this service? Tell us about how you structure the experience, price it, and what happens during the visit. Feel free to advertise yourselves if you offer this - hoping it inspires other vets to offer and promote this as a service! PS this is an EXCEPTION TO THE RULE of no links in threads ;).
I'd like to give a general response to the common question which generally goes like this:
"I recommended Puppy Culture to a breeder and they say they already do ENS and toys and socialization and don't need Puppy Culture. I would like to encourage the breeder to use Puppy Culture but I don't want to be confrontational. How can I explain the value of Puppy Culture succinctly?"
I think the biggest advantage to Puppy Culture for breeders who might already be doing a some or even all of the protocols in the film is that Puppy Culture gives a more organized approach.
Obviously, I was doing everything that is in Puppy Culture before I made the film, but it was more seat of the pants - I can definitely say that, even for myself, my litters have benefitted since I made the film.
When I was making the film I had to ask myself why and make a case for every protocol at every juncture - this is what led to my reaching out to so many additional vets and experts. And, based on this research, I made subtle but powerful changes to when and how and why I did things, and that has had a remarkable effect on my own litters.
And I do see my litters differently now, I see more details about when and how different things happen behaviorally and I'm just more in tune with what each individual puppy needs when.
Whereas before we would do certain things at certain times and then "diagnose" the puppies as being good or bad at things, distracted or checked in and attribute many behavioral things to "temperament," I now have less of a blanket approach.
I have a more nuanced view of development and I understand that different traits and abilities can emerge differently and at different times and I am less likely to saddle a puppy with a "label" and more likely to work with the puppy to tease out the strengths in that puppy's character. Still all the same protocols, but weaving them in and out differently.
So, in sum, Puppy Culture is not about the "What," of raising puppies, it's about the "Why," - obviously a perfect framework for a new breeder but certainly also a "booster" for any puppy rearing program, even if they are physically doing all the protocols in Puppy Culture!
More thoughts as I continue writing the Puppy Culture Workbook:
A lot of emphasis is generally placed on puppies socializing with other puppies. We like young puppies socializing together because there is generally little possibility of any real aggression between puppies under 12 weeks of age. But, in our observation, there are limits to the benefits of puppy play.
While puppy play can teach some reciprocal play skills and give puppies great natural exercise, puppies are not always great teachers when it comes to emotional regulation. Puppies will often amp up together and feed off of each other’s excitement. Once they begin escalating they generally wont stop; no matter how big an overtired brat one puppy becomes, the other puppy usually just becomes equally overtired and bratty and it falls to the humans to step in and break up or regulate the play by re-directing.
On the other hand, a good adult dog will know how to shape down a rambunctious puppy by withholding play until the puppy calms down and shows some finesse. If you do have access to adult dog(s) that are good puppy raisers, that is, in the words of Dr. Bright, “magical.” A session with a good adult is, in our estimation, worth its weight in gold and probably more beneficial, at least in terms of behavioral development, than a session playing with other puppies.
OK back to "keeping it real" - here's a teaching story and an example how ever experienced breeders who plan well can get stymied.
I normally vaccinate all of my puppies. This is not to save money - I just prefer not to have them go to the vet's office unvaccinated any more than they have to. Since I only had one puppy this time, I thought, what the heck, I'll have my vet do it - I can carry her in and out so quickly and she'll never be so much as breathed on by another dog.
We did nomographs this time so knew the vaccination should be scheduled for Monday, when Patsy turned 9 weeks old - the date the nomograph indicated she would be clear of MDAs. Add 7 days and we can be out and going to training class and socialization sessions by exactly 10 weeks old. Perfect!
So I called the front desk last week to be SURE that they had the distemper-parvo only shot and they assured me yes, yes, yes, they have it. I even made them go ask a vet to confirm. Yes, yes, they have it. Do I have to tell you that I showed up on Monday and they did not have it? They only had the four way vaccine. "Oh," they said, "we thought you wanted the one without lepto"
So that puts us in a crappy position. The earliest I could get a two way vaccine shipped to me was Thursday, due to the July 4th holiday. Basically, Patsy is going to lose three days of precious time out and about. Is it the end of the world? No. But it's annoying and I could have so easily avoided the whole thing by ordering the vaccinations and just doing it myself, as usual. And it's an example of how, no matter how proactive we are, there is always something new that sneaks up on us!
Since we have a few new singleton litters in the group, I thought it might be helpful to re post some information I posted from earlier threads:
You've had a singleton before, so I don't have to reassure you that your singleton puppy won't grow two heads and is perfectly likely to grow up with no problems related to her lack of siblings :o). That having been said, here are the areas I think need special attention with a singleton:
First of all, because your puppy has never had to share, I recommend you be religious about the resource guarding and body handling protocols under the Resource Guarding section on disc 2. Definitely do one "formal" session to establish the idea, but after that you don't have to make a big thing about it. Just be sure, whenever your puppy looks like she's really "into" something, be it a bone, food, toy, or sleeping location, grab a treat and do an exchange. Seriously, you don't need to do it a million times or take hours doing it - just whenever you have a chance. It will make a huge difference.
The second thing I would recommend is to be sure she gets lots of challenges - obstacles, games, training challenges. She hasn't had to struggle or fight for anything so learning to overcome obstacles, both figuratively and literally, is going to be key to her emotional stability. We discuss the neurological reasons for this in the film, but suffice it to say that animals who do not meet struggle as infants often feel stressed and frustrated when they are thwarted as adults, and that can lead to behavioral issues. Again, you don't have to go crazy with this - just barriers and obstacles to her food dish, or having her climb out of the weaning pen, or even commercial puzzles and mazes, will help.
The third big area is dog-on-dog socialization - I know you have a house full of friendly dogs and I find that, by five weeks, the other dogs in the house are spending more time with our puppies than their mothers, anyway.
Of course, you should do everything else in the film, but, in my observation, these are going to be the three big areas that will need a little more attention.
The only thing I would add because it's come up recently, is that puppies receive a lot of physical stimulation from their litter mates which appears to aid peristalsis (moving things along the digestive tract). Singletons don't get this advantage, and they also are able to gorge, so colic and constipation can be a problem, even if they appear to be voiding their bowels regularly.
My unscientific suggestion is to massage the puppy's stomach a lot during and after eating, and also stimulate him to poop, even if mom appears to be doing it well. I use olive oil on my bare finger as it's the lest likely to cause dangerous chafing. That might be too gross for you in which case you can use a cotton ball really well soaked in oil, but beware of chafing which invites opportunistic infection.
Do not use any kind of gel lubricant (such as the type you use for a thermometer). I tried it and was horrified to find it dried into a hard shell on the puppy's behind. Even though I was as careful as possible and gently soaked it off, it still left little nicks in the skin.
Much discussion about deaf puppies lately - I think the easiest way to think about this is that your goal is no different for a deaf puppy than any other puppy - you want to create an emotionally resilient enrichment seeker. You just have one less "dimension" to worry about. But nothing else changes. We have been fortunate enough never to have bred a deaf (or even unilateral) puppy, but I have trained many. In my observation, deaf dogs/puppies are, if anything, easier to work with as they just that much less distracted/stimulated. As far as I can tell, the only real concern with deaf puppies is that they will snap when startled, which, at least in Bull Terriers, is not a big issue if a minimum of conditioning is done at a young age. So I would not euthanize a deaf Bull Terrier puppy and I don't even think placement is such a big deal - LOL at least not a bigger deal than it already is to place one of our treasured puppies ;o). We already have "no off leash and no dog park and no electric fence" clauses in our contracts so it's not like the dogs are any more likely to get into trouble than a hearing dog. But, just my opinion, I think it's unethical to charge money for a deaf puppy.
This could be very different in different breeds and I am certainly not sitting in judgement of anyone who feels that their breed does not have the natural emotional stability to handle living in our world as a deaf dog.
Regarding Puppy Culture protocols and deaf puppies, the overriding concern should be to create a "good" CER for being surprised. Where other puppies will startle primarily though sound at first, deaf puppies will startle through touch. So my suggestion is to "sneak up" on the puppy and touch/abruptly pick up the puppy in lieu of startling with sound (as we do in the 3 week section in Puppy Culture). All of the usual caveats apply - watch the response (recovery should be virtually instantaneous) and rate your protocols based on that - and also rate based on developmental period. Please don't just run out and do this unless you've seen the film and understand the parameters!
I also think shaping early emotional responses will be even more important with a deaf puppy - if you have a suspected deaf puppy please do review my "Shaping Emotional Responses" video....it's currently free but not for long so be sure to watch it while you can! https://www.puppyculture.com/new-shaping-emotional-responses.html
Because we often get questions about powering up the clicker I'm going to address a couple common questions here.
1. How many sessions? This depends on the puppy. I always do one session, I often do two, and I occasionally do three. Here is what I'm looking for before I move on to The Box Game.
A. Is my puppy understanding the food comes from my hand AND is the puppy able to take the food easily. So, the puppy isn't sniffing the floor, rooting around, or having trouble understanding to open it's mouth for food insertion.
B. Is the sound classically conditioned? My puppies usually express that they have made the association between the click and food by twitching their ears coupled with a split second freeze.
C. How does the clicker feel in my hand? Am I comfortable with clicking it, holding it properly and having my clicker hand in the right position? How about my food delivery? Does that feel comfortable and fluid? If not, powering up the clicker is a great time to work on my own mechanics, this sets ME up for more success in later training. A very important goal! Many of us are new to clickers!
If one session reaches these three goals, I move on, if it takes three or more that is OK too.
2. What food is best? I usually use canned food and a small spoon, BUT, the answer is whatever works for you and your puppies. Be sure to use the Search Bar and look for previous threads on what types of bait work for our tiny, immature, learners! SO many great ideas in those threads.
3. WHY do we power up the clicker at all? Often our clicker training members will pop in with "I don't power up the clicker at all" and that isn't "wrong", but it's not "right" either.
When I'm working with an older learner, one who knows how to take food from a hand and that food comes from places other than boobies and bowls, I might move right into operant conditioning (clicker training) and skip over classical conditioning (powering up the clicker) but for our tiny and immature learners who may be as young as 4 weeks, taking the step of powering up the clicker isn't an "extra" step at all, it's a necessary step. Our puppies need to learn to take the food, that's not something to try to accomplish at the same moment you are trying to shape the box game.
Seriously, getting food into those frantic mouths, that don't even know to open up, is more difficult that one might think!
Secondly, many of our breeders are new to training, or new to clickers, we want you to power up the clicker so you can get some practice with your clicker timing and mechanics too. Our puppies are beginners and so are we! By powering up the clicker we are setting ourselves as much as our puppy up for success in the box game. We know, once you start training your baby puppies, you will be hooked!