Foundations for Life - Preparing Pix Part 3

While I love teaching my dogs tricks and exploring the world of dog sports, setting a foundation of life skills is what will make the most significantimpact on Pix’s entire life. It is the behaviours that allow me to care for Pix from day to day, and when extraordinary events occur, that will ensure this happy, confident puppy will mature into a confident adult.

Handling Pix’s Mouth

I want Pix to understands that I sometimes need to look in her mouth, and this this is okay. I don’t teach no teeth on skin, rather I chose to encourage a soft mouth. This is a personal preference. I chose it so my dogs don't associate teeth touching skin as inherently wrong, since if I am looking for a pearl headed pin in the roof of their mouth like I did when Abby was six months old, I want them to be confident that nothing bad will happen and they are happy for me to manipulate their jaws.

I teach this by rewarding a soft mouth and spending a lot of time playing with her mouth. A great time to practice is when your puppy is teething. A lot of puppies will find a gum massage particularly enjoyable while testing and this can be a great way to teach them that poking around in their mouth is a good thing. 

We plan on brushing Pix’s teeth so we are currently ‘brushing’ her teeth with a little bit of peanut butter. She is already starting to demand toothbrush time because it means she gets her super dooper special treat. 

Crate Training

I have an entire blog dedicated to how awesome crate training is. Pix is currently being crated with a buddy so she learns crate time is quiet time, not yelling times. As she begins to understand this concept further she will graduate from having a baby sitter to solo crate time. 

Puppies barking in crates is a reality of puppy ownership. While I cheat and use other dogs it is also where she gets to eat her chewy bones, turkey necks and carrots. Atfour months of age she has a cue to got into her crate before she gets food and it has lots of positive value already.

Picking Up Your Dog

Any and all dogs, regardless of size should be ok with you elevating all or parts of them off the ground. It might be hard to manage the ‘all’ part in bigger breeds but you should still be able to lifteach individual leg off the ground without your dog being concerned or collapsing. 

Having your puppy be calm and relaxed when being picked up can be incredibly useful should something happen and your dog ends up with an injury that requires you to pick them up. They will already be frightened and sore, you want them to feel happy and safe when you life them, not add to the fear and confusion. 

Bath Time

The first bath time Pix suffered through wasn't a lot of fun. Unfortunately she had run through some wee, so it was not optional. 

She cried and threw tantrums the whole time. 

Fast forward six weeks and Pixie is now trying to break into the shower. This has been achieved by giving her plenty of positive experiences around water, letting her make the decision to approach the aqueous substance and being rewarded with chicken, fish and kibble when she does. 

Clipping Nails

Every dog is going to need their nails clipped from time to time. To start preparing for this, spend time holding each of your puppy’s paws and get them used to their paws being handled. Heaps of positive reinforcement while you do this means paw handling is a positive experience. Once they are happy with their paws being handled you can move up to clipping nails, while keeping the reward rate high. 

Lying on Their Side

There are lots of things that are so much easier if your pup is happy to lay down on their side. Whether it be an examination at the vet, brushing out some muck, or checking for ticks. Happily Pix started offering this behaviour early, so it was just a matter of capturing it and rewarding. 

Getting Used to Strange Stuff

Pix has had to suffer many strange and wonderful things being shown to her. This is so she gets used to having funny things close to her without getting scared or stressed. At the vet’s or being measured for competition are examples of times when strange and unfamiliar things might come near Pix.

Dr Jaime Jackson