Week 2 Skills:
- Paw Pad with Handler Movement
- Impulse Control – Continuation of Ground Tether
- Collar Cues – Moving Puppy While Handler Is Seated
- Body Handling
- READING: Socialization
WEEK 2 – PAW PAD: Introducing the Paw Pad with Handler Movement
Goal Behavior: Puppy remains in a STAND position on the Paw Pad while the handler moves out of position, away from the puppy.
Why: This introduces self-control and is the foundation for the STAY command.
- Puppy off leash.
- Paw Pad placed where puppy will be successful at keeping a straight line (i.e., on the wall or away from the wall.)
- Treat pouch full of rewards.
- Prerequisite: If a puppy is not successful with Week 1, do not add Week 2 curriculum. Have puppy continue working on Week 1 curriculum while other puppies move on.
- During a session, small breaks of holding the puppy can be given, but a puppy may need a 10-minute break to BUSY and get a drink and relax. Session can be repeated after.
- Pay attention to your treat hand. It must be in front of the puppy’s nose, or slightly to the left when delivering a treat. Puppy’s head must NOT curl in front of the handler’s left leg. If puppy’s head does curl, check placementof your treat delivery.
- High rate of reinforcement should be delivered as handler is moving in and out of position.
- All of this movement should be done while puppy is chewing his previous reward.
- Do not rush to increase distance from the puppy. The puppy needs a strong history of reinforcement for staying on the Paw Pad while the handler is moving. This will help the puppy realize that remaining on the Paw Pad will result in food.
- The time between rewards should gradually increase while the handler is still close to the puppy.
- If puppy becomes restless or moves off the Paw Pad, the puppy is being asked to hold the position for too long.
Steps: Adding Handler Movement
- Review standing on the Paw Pad where you left off at home.
- Have puppy STAND on the Paw Pad. Mark and reward.
- As the puppy is chewing reward handler should take one small step forward with the right leg. Slightly pivot on the left leg and immediately return to the original position. Mark and reward. The movement needs to be so small that the puppy barely sees the movement.
- Repeat the small step several times, gradually increasing the distance of your step. Keep the left leg next to the Paw Pad and just pivot on it. This is less distracting to the puppy.
- Next, handler pivots in front of the puppy, marking and rewarding before stepping back into position. Repeat several times.
- If puppy is solid on the Paw Pad while handler is pivoting in front of the puppy, handler may take a step backwards, while facing the puppy. Mark, then move back to the position in front of the puppy and deliver reward. Repeat several times.
- Once the puppy is holding his position the handler can then take a step forward, sideways or backward. Handler returns to position to reward the puppy, as long as he stays on the Paw Pad. Repeat several times.
- If the puppy is successful, the handler may gradually increase the number of steps. It might take several sessions for the puppy to be comfortable with the handler 6 feet away.
- If handler is certain the puppy will STAY on the Paw Pad, the use of the verbal STAY as well hand cue can be used as handler steps away. In positive training, the cues are added AFTER the behavior begins to take shape.
WEEK 2 – IMPULSE CONTROL: Ground Tether Part 2
Goal Behavior: Puppy is able to keep a loose leash and collar around distractions while focused on the handler.
Why: Puppy continues to practice impulse control choosing the reward over the distraction.
- Puppy on leash
- Suitable distractions
- Treat pouch full of rewards
- Leash needs to be short enough so the puppy feels pressure if it moves away from the handler, but long enough that the collar will be loose when the puppy stands next to the handler, about 2 feet in length.
- Position is not important for this exercise.
- Handler stands firmly on the leash with the ball of the foot. See “General Tips” for more on leash placement.
- Handler must stay in a stationary position and allow the puppy to test the ground tether.
- Mark and reward the puppy for either of the following behaviors: A. Not pulling on the collar or leash
- Looking at the handler
- Rewards should be delivered close to the handler’s legs to help the puppy feel the loose collar.
- If puppy tries to pull away from the ground tether, wait for the puppy to release the pressure, immediately mark and reward.
- Once the puppy is choosing to maintain a fully loose collar, handler should only mark a fully loose leash and collar.
- AC or assistant places a variety of enticing distractions (people, food, sticks, leaves, balls, etc.) on the floor outside of the puppy’s reach. This distraction should be enough to make the puppy to pull but not get excited.
- As soon as the puppy releases the pressure, immediately mark and reward the puppy.
- If puppy remains with a loose collar, continue to reward intermittently. Keep practicing until the puppy shows an understanding of a loose leash.
WEEK 2 – COLLAR CUES: Movement into HEEL while Handler Sits
Goal Behavior: Puppy is able to move to handler’s right and left sides and into HEEL position in response to collar cues while the handler sits in a chair.
- Exercise takes place in a low distraction area.
- Handler sits in chair with puppy on leash.
- Handler begins with the leash in the left hand. Puppy will most likely be facing handler.
- Handler will have to be very aware of the instant the puppy begins to release pressure in order to mark and reward that instant.
- Initially the handler should expect only very small movements (a step or even just a slight lean in to release pressure). As the puppy begins to understand the exercise, the handler can slowly ask for more movement (two or three steps at a time).
- Most handlers will initially keep pulling when the puppy releases pressure. (Why? Because it is hard to hold fixed pressure with your hand out in space.)
- The handler must be sure that the leash is completely loose while the puppy is being rewarded. For some handlers, this is easiest to do if they learn to move their leash hand close to the puppy’s collar after marking.
- If puppy does not respond to light pressure, handler must increase pressure, and continue to do so until puppy moves.
- Handler can get a shorter hold on leash if necessary. A longer leash can make it harder to apply consistent pressure.
- Handler should be careful to have enough space around the chair so that the puppy feels that it has room to move and is not being pulled into a wall or any other object.
- Pressure should be horizontal and at the level of the puppy’s neck as much as possible. This may mean handler has to bend down.
- A lighter leash is better for this exercise than a heavy leash.
- Handler applies pressure to the left.
- As soon as puppy moves into the pressure and releases it, handler marks with YES while at the same time moving the leash hand close to the puppy’s collar so that there is absolutely no tension on the leash.
- Handler reapplies pressure behind, and continues marking and rewarding when the puppy releases pressure.
- Handler applies forward pressure until the puppy is in front of handler again. 5. Handler switches leash to the right hand and applies pressure to the right. 6. Handler applies pressure behind with the leash in the right hand. 7. Handler returns puppy to left side and uses a series of collar cues to move the puppy behind the chair and into HEEL position.
Socialization: Quality Over Quantity
When socializing a young puppy, it’s best to keep the phrase, “Quality over quantity” in mind. What does this mean? In the beginning, it’s best to do short but focused outings, preferably with lots of repetition in the same few locations. Young puppies are experiencing the world for the first time and can get overwhelmed quickly. When a puppy is overwhelmed and doesn’t have time to process an experience, it will actually hurt the pup’s confidence not build him up.
Instead, a puppy who experiences a short and positive session in a location, and then repeats that same experience within the next few days, can start to build his confidence as he realizes, “Hey! I’ve done this before and it was easy!”
Raisers are excited to take their new puppies to fun outings, but it will serve the puppy better in the long run to exercise some discretion for socialization in the beginning. By building up a pup’s confidence now, the puppy will grow up knowing that you will be fair and supportive during outings, making new places easier to take in. Remember that you will have this puppy for a year or more and will have plenty
of opportunity to do the fun outings when your pup is older, especially if you take the time to thoughtfully expose your young puppy to socialization now.
How exactly can we help our young pups with building confidence in repeat socialization?
- When you first get your puppy, spend the first week really letting your puppy settle into his new home. Limit yourself to your own house and about the length of two houses on either side of you for the first week.
- For the next 2-3 weeks, pick 3 quiet locations (“Quality over quantity!”) that you can repeatedly visit for socialization. Some examples are a quiet parking lot, a park at a less busy time of day, your place of employment but after hours. Do short 15-20 minute outings in these locations, repeating each one at least twice.
- Following those weeks, add 3 new locations every couple of weeks, but still repeat previous locations on a regular basis. If it’s a new location, stick to the 15-20 minute rule (“Quality over quantity!”) and if it’s a repeat location from previous weeks, you can build to longer outings as long as the dog looks comfortable.
Some raisers may realize their older dog has lower confidence or is even going through a “fear period.” Spend a week at home to allow your dog to settle, which will help the dog’s stress cortisol levels to return to a productive normal state. Follow the guidelines for little puppies and reintroduce socialization to your older pup.
Of course, please continue to attend regularly scheduled puppy meetings, unless instructed to do otherwise by your Area Coordinator and Puppy Raising Services. However, if the outing is too busy for your pup, please discuss with your AC about some alternatives – such as attending the meeting without your pup so you can still take in the information, attending the meeting but remaining on the outskirts to give your pup a quieter and more thoughtful way to take in the environment, etc. Also, many groups enjoy doing a social activity after formal meetings, which often includes bringing the pups along. If you have a younger puppy, going to a busy restaurant may not be appropriate at that time. Instead, take your pup home or leave him in a crate in another nearby raiser’s house before attending the social gathering. It’s best to keep in mind that each puppy is different and takes in new experiences in a different way.
Being able to help a puppy explore the world for the first time and gain confidence in doing so can be fun and rewarding! As a raiser, you provide a valuable service and experience for each pup you take into your house. Without the raisers, Southeastern Guide Dogs wouldn’t be able to produce such excellent guide and service dogs!
Socialization: How to Socialize a Cautious Puppy
As we previously discussed, “quality over quantity” is one of the main keys for early socialization. In spite of how slow and thoughtful a raiser might be with socialization, a raiser will still come across situations where the puppy shows caution, concern, fear, or unsure behavior towards an item or environment. However, you can help your pup have a productive and positive experience with proper socializing. The following are some tips for socializing a pup that is acting cautiously or showing concern with something new.
- Always keep your pup’s leash loose. A tight leash can add to building tension and stress. A loose leash shows that you are relaxed in the situation, as well, and helps cue your puppy to being relaxed.
- Allow your puppy to decide how close he wants to be to the object. If you approach, allow the puppy the length of the leash. If the puppy needs more space, make sure you back up with him to keep the leash loose or have him on a long line.
- Approach the object without pressuring your puppy to follow you. As you approach the object of concern, keep the leash slack, but don’t call your puppy with you or to the object. We purposely breed biddable puppies who want to work with and please the handler, so the puppy may actually approach but may still be concerned or scared. Instead, as you walk up to the object, touch it and talk towards the object, such as “This is a lovely fire hydrant.” Avoid phrases like, “Look at this, Fido! It’s ok, Fido!”
- Do not use food to lure the puppy towards the object. Again, this puts pressure on the puppy that will likely not be beneficial. Someone may put $100 bill on top of a tarantula, but when I snatch the bill, I’m not any less afraid of the tarantula! Likewise, a retriever puppy will quickly grab the piece of food because they are typically a food-motivated breed, but this doesn’t mean they have resolved their concern.
- Do not use food to lure a puppy onto an underfooting/unusual surface. You can quietly stand on the underfooting and praise and treat when the pup decides to put even one paw on the underfooting. Avoid using food to lure puppy on underfooting (see #4 above).
- You may reward and praise for any relaxed movement the puppy makes towards the object. Once the puppy realizes the object isn’t so scary and starts to step in, you may quietly praise the pup. If the puppy is close enough and continues approaching on his own, you may even give quiet praise and a treat at that point to reward his bravery.
- Repeat exposures help build confidence. When possible, revisit the item, environment, or experience that caused your puppy concern. Usually, the puppy will show some degree of being more comfortable on repeat exposures. We want the pup to have a positive association with what is causing him concern, so repeating after he has had time to process the first exposure can help the positive interaction on the 2nd and 3rd times.
- Give the puppy the opportunity to have a play or rest break after an intense reaction or stressful experience. Some puppies internalize their concern, especially ones that are very biddable and want to work with you. If you notice that your puppy had an unusual reaction to something and you have given the pup adequate opportunity to check it out, then you will want to give the puppy a break in a less stressful environment. Move to a quiet and out-of-the-way area to help the puppy instantly feel more relaxed. It’s always good to carry a couple of toys with you to let the pup release some tension by shaking a fleece toy or chewing on a Nylabone. Some puppies may choose to release the energy by “zooming” around and it’s good to have a long leash with you that you can switch to and allow the puppy to “zoom” out their stress. Once you see the pup starting to settle back down, then you know he is getting back to baseline and can continue on.
- Outings for your puppy should be gradual and based on his behavior. All puppies will take new experiences in at different paces. However, its best to assume a slow pace at first for every puppy you work with – whether its one you are raising or camping. Establishing a good foundation is more important than trying to do too much, too quickly. Watching the puppy’s body language is the best way to decide how to proceed with any outing or experience. Additionally, it’s best to not compare one puppy to another in order to assess if a puppy is “on schedule.” If you do have such concerns, consulting with your AC is best to gain a better outside perspective on your puppy and his development.
It is normal for a puppy to show wariness. By being wary of new stimuli, a pup is actually being safe. What if it is something dangerous? It’s smart to take the time to have a slow approach and investigate! In everything except emergencies, allowing the pup to take that time and make decisions about approach will add to the pup’s confidence and help teach the pup about making independent choices. As guide dogs, they need to be able to make quick and confident decisions while leading their handler through the world!
WEEK 2 – HOMEWORK
- Puppy should not be run through all activities in one session, multiple SHORT sessions are most successful.
- If puppy is having a hard time understanding, or not interested in training, STOP, give the puppy a break and try again later.
- Introducing Paw Pad with Handler Movement and Increasing Movement/Distance
- Goal Behavior: Puppy remains in a STAND on the Paw Pad while the handler moves out of position, away from the puppy.
- Why: This introduces self-control and is the foundation for the STAY command.
- Practice Paw Pad exercises 1-3 times per day, 5-10 minutes per session. • Distance practice: Gradually increase distance you are moving away from puppy.
- Duration practice: Gradually increase the time you stand away from the puppy.
- More Distraction with Ground Tether
- Goal Behavior: The puppy chooses not to pull on the ground tether and keep a loose leash, while facing a mild distraction, such as food or a person engaging the puppy.
- Why: This is the beginning of impulse control.
- Practice ground tether exercises 1-3 times per day, 5-10 minutes per session. • Ground tether distractions should be a slightly more challenging level compared to last week, specific to your puppy.
- In a low distraction area while sitting in a chair and pup on a short leash, practice applying pressure to the left, behind, and forward. Mark and reward each time pup responds.
- Hold leash with right hand and apply pressure to the left, behind, and forward. Mark and reward each time pup responds.
- Hold leash in the left hand and move pup into HEEL position using a series of collar cues.
- Remember to move your leash hand to pup’s collar while puppy is chewing reward.
- Mark and reward very small movements in the cued direction. • Treat pouch can be in your lap for ease of reward delivery.
- Massage and manipulate different parts of the pup’s body.
- Practice body handling 1-3 times per day, 5-10 minutes per session.