Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Soliciting Advice

Okay, so the day after our field trip to the outdoor mall last week, I received an email from our Trainer suggesting that I try a few things with Haddie when we are on outings. She observed that Haddie was uncomfortable in new situations. The first thought that popped in my mind when I read the sentence was, "It was freeeeezing last night! Her tail didn't wag because she couldn't move it!" 


But I know I must not go on the defense as that will never get Team Haddie to improve and go in the direction of our goal. I will take her advice and offer Haddie "play time" and "fun breaks" during our outings to try to spice up her step and get her enthusiastic.

As I've taken her on outings since that revelation, I am finding that perhaps I don't really know what I'm looking for the same way that our Trainer is looking for. Haddie truly does behave in public, and she receives many wide eyed disbelief at her manners when I respond to their questions about her age - the public really can't believe how calm and obedient she is.

I know I am not here to please the general public ... but that does say something about Haddie.

What I need to know is ... what am I supposed to be seeing from Haddie? Does she need to wag her tail vigorously, prance at a higher step, perk her ears forward in curiosity, be a little disobedient? What is the common look of a puppy just shy of 6 months old in public? What am I missing that the professionals are seeing?

I offered Haddie one of her prized toys today in the isle of our Pharmacy. Our Trainer suggested giving Haddie some down time, in new or old places, with a toy to see if she will perk up. Haddie looked at the toy, looked at me, looked at the toy, looked at me ... and sat down. There was no perk or interest - more like, "Excuse me? I am in my vest, on a leash, in public. It is not time to play."  I had to smirk back at her, pick up the toy, and move on.

Thoughts, Fellow Puppy Raisers??


  1. Hello, I have raised 4 puppies and I can honestly say that she sounds like the perfect example of CCI pup public etiquette. I had 3 puppies that by the time they were 5 months and ready to go into public they were mellow...like really mellow. My one pup (that graduated) I always said was a dope on a rope. He was calm in public from the time he was 8 weeks old. As long as she doesn't "shut down"(not listening to commands or responding to her name) I wouldn't worry about it. She sounds like a great pup in my experience. My only suggestion would be to keep her on her toes doing commands, visiting with the public, etc and give her a few treats to keep her excited. I would say not to go out of your way and make her over excited or disobedient. It's ok to have fun in public but let her be herself.

  2. Thanks, Madison! I like your idea of "keeping her on her toes" ... I do need to remember to focus on commands in public now that she has a handful down in private.

  3. I would deffinately agree with Madison. As long as she is willing to get up and go with you, I don't think it is a problem. I don't really thing she needs to be totally hazard about every outing she goes on- this is something she may be doing for the rest of her life and, odds are, it will become old news to her eventually!
    One thing I do with my puppies occasionally when I think they may be feeling stressed is take them outside and away from anyone who may see and get really excited. I tell them what good dogs they are and try to get them excited. Before they can get out of control, I tell them "that's enough" so they know that the fun time is over and ask them to run through some commands.
    This is something that our "community field representative" taught us. I really like it because, not only does it relieve their stress, it is also a way for them to practice how to be calm after a bit of craziness. That way, if they ever get out of control in public, I can calmly say "thats enough" and know that they will follow my command.

    I think you are doing a great job with Haddie! She sounds like an amazing puppy already!

  4. Ooooh, I like "that's enough" ... I do "all done" at home when play time is over but I should put it into action out in public too. And remembering to take her outside in a mini-form of "release" would be good to incorporate also. Thanks for the helpful ideas!

  5. i agree with both Madison and Carrie. My first puppy would fit Madison's "dope on a rope" description and she graduated also! From the start she was very mellow and had the attitude of "excuse me, I'm working its not time to play around." I have heard that CCI is trying to ensure that their puppies go into advanced training with an enthusiasm for work and that they haven't been drilled and hate the job. This could be what your trainer is looking for. Some puppies just naturally are mellow in public and wait to be perky until their job is done. There is nothing wrong with that! Some suggestions would be to make sure she doesn't tuck her tail, crouch or shy away from things. Also, this is something I had to remember, is that sometimes when they super mellow and good like this in public you forget to praise them and mix things up. So I would suggest remembering to praise her here and there since she is still so young and mix things up (have her do a series of commands randomly, go under anything that she can here and there, do ups here and there, do outs in narrow openings, and so on) and then sometimes hardly have her do anything. This will reinforce her already great behavior and make things more interesting and fun for her. Hope that helps!

  6. With Holly at least she had a "working face" vest went on and nothing, come hell or high water, would get in the way of her behaving well. She didn't wag, and didn't get really enthusiastic, not because she hated the work, but because she knew she was working. Personally, I loved that, especially on the several occasions we were in stores with lots of crystalline items that would have been shattered with a waggy tail. Holly showed her stress other ways, slow cue response, whale eyes, pinned ears, taking food roughly when she usually was very gentle.

    Honestly it just sounds like Haddie knows what working mode is. Perhaps a verbal cue for finishing up, maybe followed by a good hard game of tug the minute the vest comes off. You are the one living with Haddie, you know her, her working style, and her body language better than anyone else. You are the one who would best know whether she was really stressed or not.

  7. Thanks, Ashley! Your idea is helpful to mix it up with Haddie. I need time remember to have her "do commands" while in public. I will admit that is one area where I am lacking. Partly because of her age, and hearing from our Trainer to not over work them, I have just let her walk with me through stores and do basics of sit, down, heel, and making sure she isn't pulling on her leash. But now is the time to step it up. I like your advice. Thanks!!

  8. Kat ~ those are the things that I am trying to observe with Haddie (tail, posture, eyes, ears) and I guess I need to look this up on the net to figure out the different cues per position. Obviously I know the tail tuck is an obvious sign - and thankfully that is not Haddie - but her tail does have different positions. Oh the fun of doggie language!!! Thanks for the encouragement and experienced tips.

  9. I would just put in my vote that I agree with what everyone has said. Runza was a bit more animated in public but always professional. Hosta was my dope on a rope chill pup. Ellie, she would almost always shut down in public and nothing I could do could get her over it. (why she was released). Vance is always very serious when working but super animated at home. It's basically knowing your puppy's norm and going from there. Just like all us humans are different, each pup can be different. As long as they are being good and not shutting down, or stressing out, I don't get overly concerned about it. (If I'm relaxed, they'll usually be relaxed) Also, one thing that really helped with Ellie (preventing her from shutting down/stressing out/reacting to her environment) was if another very confident dog went along with. I also had to keep outings much shorter/quieter with her and stop and do the praise thing that Carrie mentioned. Hosta/Vance were/are our groups mentor dogs since they are pretty much bombproof and not phased by anything. Good luck - a lot of it is just experience too - and that doesn't happen overnight!!!

  10. Thanks, Lisa! The suggestions and advice from experienced PR's are so helpful being a rookie PR. I think we are doing ok after reading from you all....I will certainly add the suggestions that I need to do/more of...but I am encouraged now that we really are on a good path. Thanks!!!

  11. Haddie sounds a lot like Orent. I wonder if they're related... He's a relaxed guy. Because he spent a lot of time indoors as a youngster (we live in the city and don't have a yard and didn't want him to catch the parvo that was going around) he was nervous outdoors, but because he's so calm, we didn't notice! It took our trainer taking us outside at a puppy class break and saying, look how he holds his head and tail lower (not tucked, just low). We've finally started to adjust our expectations of what a nervous or overwhelmed puppy looks like. For Orent, it's droopy ears, low tail, slow responses, hanging just behind the knee instead of just ahead. Also not holding a sit or down because there's too much going on. Taking food more aggressively and focusing just on food is a good clue too that I learned from these comments!

    Thanks for the tips about what to do with an overwhelmed puppy!

  12. Max - Haddie's parents are Waverly and Hickman but Haddie and Orent are only a month apart - only way would be via Hickman. Curious - let me know. =)
    How has the training adjustment worked with Orent - are you noticing a difference and what did you do to start fixing it?