Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Rule of Sevens

A friend of mine recently shared an article from The Whole Dog Journel, Proper Puppy Prep, The Science and Art of Optimizing baby canine brains. In this interesting article, are some good tips to help you maximize your puppy's learning experience.

I love this idea. As breeders, we already do most of the things on this list. I just never really thought about them as a list, to accomplish every day with my puppies. But now, I will.
The idea is, to expose your puppies to as many different situations as possible. It teaches them to think, how to solve problems, and how to accomplish tasks. It helps them to have more confidence when they are out in the world.

Puppies should be exposed to different kinds of experiences, to help prepare them for their new home, new family, and new stomping grounds. Here's the list of Sevens, that every puppy should experience.

The Rule of Sevens

Seven different types of surfaces:
carpet, concrete, wood, vinyl, grass, dirt, gravel, wood chips.

Seven different types of play objects:
big balls, small balls, soft fabric toys, fuzzy toys, squeaky toys, paper or cardboard items, metal items, sticks, or hose pieces.

NOTE: If you give your puppies paper or cardboard, it should be with supervision only. Sometimes puppies will swallow paper, and really shouldn't.

Seven different locations:
front yard, backyard, basement, kitchen, car, garage, laundry room, bathroom, woods.

Seven new people: 
children and older adults, a person with a cane, someone in a wheelchair, someone with a walker.

Seven challenges:
Climb a box, climb off a box, go through a tunnel, climb steps, go down steps, climb obstacles, play hide and seek, go in and out of a doorway, run around a fence.

Seven different food containers:
Metal, plastic, cardboard, paper, china, pie plate, frying pan.

Seven different eating locations:
Crate, yard, kitchen, basement, laundry room, living room, and bathroom.

Of course, you have probably figured out by now, that Seven isn't a magic number, it's just a suggestion, a starting place. But you get the idea....to expose your litter of puppies to as many obstacles, challenges, problems, and solutions, as possible. This sort of handling and training should start around 3 weeks old. It can be used with any litter, any dog type. You can even personalize it, to your breed.

I would add, when our puppies are about 3 - 4 weeks old, we start taking them into the woods. Easy walks at first, just to get them used to sticks and rocks, and learning how to climb over logs. Even tall grass in the face of a puppy can be frightening until they push through it. Once they do, they have accomplished something and they feel very proud.  Sometimes a blue jay or squirrel will run by or land near by. This is all good experience for a young puppy, but especially with hunting breeds. A hunting dog should have the confidence to go out ahead of his hunter, to find the birds. All of this prep work will help him do that.

The Rule of Sevens comes from Pat Schaap, A Shetland Sheepdog breeder in Clarksville, Maryland.

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