Don't force, ENTICE

Gary Priest, Animal Care Training - San Diego Zoo Global

REINFORCEMENT READY! Our 5 Week old puppies


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That soft fur, those floppy ears, that quizzical look that draws an "awww" from the most hardened cynic. Yes, puppies are cute.

They are also a project that can require the patience of Job and the stamina of the most selfless parent.

Puppies tie you down, drag you out for a walk even when it's 30+ degrees outside and sink their tiny teeth into your favorite shoes. They offer boundless love, granted unconditionally. They also provide their share of frustrations.

My role THE BREEDER is now preparing these little dachshund puppies to everyday exposures, so they can handle small stresses to prepare them for big stresses. It can be a challenge, how do you as an example expose them to a vacuum cleaner where its positive experience for the puppy? From the puppy's view vacuums are loud and they appear to chase you and have no face. When items like plastic or bedding get stuck on the end the vacuum has that high pitch whistle, to a puppy could sound like a animal in distress. A vacuum to a puppy is a predator.

How I introduce the vacuum to my puppies. 

The vacuum sits in the main room for half the day, the dachshund puppies walk around it as it's just another object.

We play with their toys around the machine, stick their toy under the vacuum head and push it around the room, with the vacuum off. We encourage the puppies to play and steal the toys back, the boys are much more courageous at this task. The puppies soon lose interest and start playing with each other. While they are distracted we have another family member take the vaccuum out of the room and while I play with the puppies and hand feed them some soft foods. In another room the vacuum is turned on and used. Play is encouraged the whole time while the vacuum is in use. The active vacuum is never brought into the room where they are, not until this action has been done several times over a few weeks.

This is just one example of how we approach exposures. Some puppies will be fine others will retain the fear, others can go through stages. The best thing the future owner can do is be a wear when your puppy / dog is afraid and equip yourself with knowledge on how to handle this when the situation occurs and not after the fact. This can prevent further behaviour problems from developing. Exposing your puppy / dog to various exposures continues throughout its life and there is no reason to put up with undesirable behaviours, if they do happen to develop. There is help out there, you can start by enrolling your puppy into puppy pre-school. What may appear to be basic trick training is fundamentally so much more than that. It socialisation for your puppy with other dogs but its socialisation with you the owner in a positive environment. It provide the new owner with basic training aids and a platform to really ask those hard questions with an experienced dog handler.

Enjoy our new updated photos of our miniature dachshund puppies. Their little eyes are starting to change colour from blue to amber in the chocolates.