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Raising a Puppy for Schutzhund Work
Puppy hood is the most critical period for the development of the characteristics you want to encourage. Your local Schutzhund club can advise you about nurturing and socializing your growing puppy. A puppy learns from its experiences, so you want to provide only positive ones. It should be provided with opportunity to explore and investigate new situations and new people, but always in a non-threatening way. Remember that your goal is to build confidence in the young animal. Your aim is not to dominate or oppress the young pup. Exposure to different environments is crucial to the general education of the dog and also to assure it that the world is a safe place. If something appears to make the dog unsure, give it the opportunity to investigate it slowly, but do not force the issue.
It is imperative to avoid situations where your dog would be dominated by another, older or stronger dog, or by another puppy. You also want to avoid having to discipline or correct your puppy and thus dampen its spirit or damage its self-confidence. You can do this by never leaving the pup in a situation where it can cause damage to your valuables or find itself in a dangerous predicament.
The final area of development is that of drive encouragement. The natural behaviors that you want to encourage are playing with the ball, tug of war, hide and seek, pulling toys on a string, pursuing you rapidly when you run away, and finally defending itself, its family, and its home. The latter really only shows itself between the ages of nine and 18 months, as the pup begins to mature, by barking at strangers or intruders. Acceptable manners at home and in the car and "play" training, like learning to sit for a food reward, with no corrections involved, is advisable. Real obedience work can begin once the puppy is more mature. It is better to leave for later formal obedience training with a young dog. The character of the puppy is not sufficiently strong to withstand the stress that may be involved in obedience training. An obedience program utilizing positive motivation, such a clicker training, is best.
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