Puppies are the "new chance" for many of us that train dogs. The chance to try new things, do not do things that we did with our previous dogs (or I sure hope so!!). A clean slate.
Puppies are also individuals, capable of great things---if they are allowed the opportunity to shine.
I take a very "whatever" approach to raising a puppy (if you have read this blog long enough you know what I mean by that ;) They are puppies, they are cute and they do stupid stuff...and I don't care :)
My puppies are growing up, and I am enjoying them a ton...adding training here and there...but mainly I am bonding with my kids.
Someone asked me at a recent trial about the "skills" my pups do or don't have. I told them that my puppies loved me, want to be with me more than anything...and right now that is ALL I NEED from them :)
Given a chance to interact with me versus all their dog friends...they choose me...I don't beg, or bribe...I am just very fun to them. THAT is what I want to cultivate in our relationship :)
I am amazed to see how much pressure people put on puppies to "pay attention" and "focus on them"--when in reality the person is as boring as can be. They are "faking" genuine affection for their dogs...and a dog knows that.
Puppies have toys thrown into their faces, lured with treats etc etc..when in reality all it takes is ONE ON ONE time...you, puppy and affection...you can play with your hands, pinch their fuzzy little butts, wrestle (I can hear the gasps now) and as long as they are proper...the games continue. I take my pups into a quiet room in the house all the time and play games...no toys, just me and the pup. Just bonding, having fun and no pressure to do anything :)
Don't get me wrong...toys and treats are used...used for TRAINING...used as a reward...unfortunately I see many people that use the tuggie or treats as affection. Which doesn't bond a dog to you. They have to want to BE with you...not just tug and eat from your hand. You treat them like machines (to get you to the finals, nationals, whatever) and they will treat you like a means to an end...you become a human pez dispenser...without emotion, without a bond. When I put it that way it sounds pretty sad huh? It is.
This goes for anything you do with your dogs, be it herding, agility, obedience, or just a pet dog. They need that bond to get that enthusiasm for work.
This lack of a bond causes these dogs to be under pressure...they can't trust a person they have no bond with...so this can cause stress, confidence issues and a host of other things. All because of this basic lack of bond. Try spending time NOT training with your puppy--take walks, cuddle, wrestle, play, have FUN.
Enjoy those puppy times, don't be in a rush to get a grown dog so quickly :)