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Swagger’s Early Education

Posted on 03/06/11 25 Comments

This is a video I posted to my FaceBook page a couple of days ago. It shows Swagger with his new toy (which is a great confidence building toy for puppies). At the end it shows how I start my puppy’s jump training.


Swagger turns 5 weeks old today, hard to believe really!























He is growing up nicely.  He loves to tug, it now is difficult to get the toy out of his mouth! Feature continues to play with him and recently started to play tug with him as well.
















Weaning him away from relying on his mother’s milk has been a huge challenge for me. I have heard that singleton puppies can be more difficult to get to eat solid food than those pups growing up in a litter. After 8 days of trying and about 6 different food varieties and presentations I am happy to say Swagger now eats his raw food like the rest of my gang. He even chews and eats the raw chicken necks which I thought would be a challenge for one so young!

















Each day I play a 2 hour sound effects collection for Swagger. On it is your standard desensitizing sounds; Thunder, babies crying, gun fire, firecrackers etc. To this I have added Jet engines taking off and landing (important for the life style of an agility dog in North America). I have also got 45 minutes of agility training — sounds like the seesaw banging, dogs running through tunnels, over A Frames and the tapings of the sounds of an actual agility trial (thanks to his Auntie Louise that did that for us).
















Everything is falling into place for a healthy, happy baby boy.

I recently was sent pictures and videos of the two females puppies from the UK (one of which will be coming here at the end of March). You may recall that if I decide to stick to my guns and keep with my long standing habit of only training female dogs then Swagger will go to live with my friend and Say Yes Instructor Penny Hewitt.

All pups wonderful right now. One thing is certain, regardless of which puppy Penny or I end up with we both are going to have amazing little puppies to start a new journey together.

Today I am grateful for a wonderful dinner out with six of my family members last night. A good time had by all.


  1. Jan DeMello says:
    Monday, March 14, 2011 at 12:20pm

    Just catching up on your blog. I will go out on a limb here and say that you will not be keeping Swagger:>) I have felt this all along so will be interesting to see the outcome:>)


  2. Debra says:
    Tuesday, March 8, 2011 at 10:39am

    I wished I had known about playing a CD with different noises when Snap was younger (she is now 10.5 months) She has a good focus when I’m working with her and other dogs are barking, but I don’t know what she would do with other noises. Is it too late? I really want her to do agility and am working on her foundation toward that goal.

    Thank you for your input, Susan. I’m enjoying your website; just wish Snap & I weren’t so far away from Canada…


  3. Christine says:
    Tuesday, March 8, 2011 at 3:32am

    I wish my young dog has had half of what Swagger gets from you.
    There are two questions after reading the last posts:

    Watching his interaction with the lab puppies who show wonderful calming signals (as did Feature), Sawgger shows some but less respect towards the communication.
    She also shows different signals when the lab female does the same with him. (he is more the I walk away, still keep my tension typ while the others were more the slowing down, freezing, giving many signals typs).
    In the next blog you play with Swagger and here you are pretty active like he was with the lab puppies.
    While the game with the cute moving head is much calmer.
    My first learning comes from Schutzhund/SAR people so it is always drive building. Then I started learning from continental hunting people who want drive, loats of drive but at the same time steadyness and calmness as much. The more I see them and today some also working with learning theory and reward based like you I see that the last they teach first.
    How do you do it?
    In my young positive trained dogs, I see more senstivity toward body tension I would like. Is it why you use this way of play already at such a young age?
    Could you write where one can get such a moving dog toy?

    Much fun with your pup.
    Christine and Pappnasen


    • Susan says:
      Tuesday, March 8, 2011 at 8:00am

      @Christine great observations! You will see a difference with the next video of the Lab experiment. Swagger has learned a lot about “siblings” now. I agree with your hunt people. I want drive but thoughtfulness while in drive. I am still working on the processes to help create it (if that is possible). I recognize that Feature has just that great drive but thoughtfulness while in drive. Encore has much less but is getting better with age. Buzz was severely lacking in that department.

      I would love to think it is the evolution of my training from Buzz to Feature that caused this wonderful growth:) . . . but I feel nature may have had a bigger hand in it than I as Feature is just a different dog.

      The game you see with me changing out toys in one I intend to help the dog recognize to be thoughtful well in drive. I have others I teach as the pup goes along. Mostly at the tender age of this puppy (just barely 5 weeks old) I want to develop a carefree joy of life rather than weighing him down with too much problem solving.


      • Christine says:
        Monday, March 14, 2011 at 2:23am

        Hi, thanks for your reply and I am curiouse on the new story of Swagger and the labys.

        First I have to commend that I am no breeder, only a doggy freak and sports person and keen obeserver, reader and learner. I have been living for a week or visiting breeding friends to watch and I have had my chessie pup in my golden breeding friends litter like you had Swagger (chessie puppy far too tiny 4kg and 8 weeks and golden pups about the same weight but 5 weeks). The interaction was much calmer.
        I have seen litters of more working stock where people did things like use wapiti training (Reizangel) with puppies 5-8weeks and I found these puppies where hectic, hard to controll, not easy social boosterouse, later on.
        While I found that dogs from good working lines, well scialised and not too early played to tough and high drive, develope good drive and work a long life.
        I had my best SAR training with swiss people and we discussed this and they said they found litters raised after normal well socialisation standards much easier and faster to learn later, than such raised with early stimulation in regards of drive, many obstacles in the puppy ground, start for IDs and such things. This does not mean that they should not have different grounds but it is far more a way of common sense and not overstimulation, ratio,…

        My thinking today is that early I do socialisation, human and animal interaction, with working dogs who show great potential teaching to calm down and with calm and less working potential dogs early puppy drive stimulation and calming down and I am letting the diamonds ripe and develope, give them time to digest the big world and grow. 😉

        Thanks for sharing all this especially your love and thoughts on the wellbeing of your dogs and that this can go together with having fun and dog sport and being sucessful.

        Christine Schragel

      • Susan says:
        Monday, March 14, 2011 at 7:26am

        @Christine, one of the theories I have read about recently wrt to causing what your friends are seeing, is trying to teach the puppy to be “in control” too early (as in the breeder starts promoting this in the litter). The paper suggests these puppies grow up to be erratic and difficult to control adult dogs and that doing more more than tugging and letting the rest develop is the answer. I the the early neurologic stimulation, although with people for and against it, is well documented and scientifically researched in its success.

  4. Ninette says:
    Tuesday, March 8, 2011 at 2:57am

    Oh Susan, hurry up now and tell us you are keeping Swagger. No way would I let such a cute, amazing, stunning pup that I have spent so much time with and effort on (and I bet grown so fond of!!) go to anybody else, no matter how good friend she is or how good home she’ll give him ….. 🙂


  5. Nancy says:
    Monday, March 7, 2011 at 9:05pm

    Please, Please, Please!!!! Make a “puppy camp” online class! I am so hoping with the two new little students around it will be a perfect time to develop said class. You are going to be working through it all anyway… 🙂


  6. Abigail says:
    Monday, March 7, 2011 at 2:38pm

    Maybe the old adage is true: a change (in gender) is as good as a rest ??
    I think HE’S AWFULLY CUTE! (really nice markings on his face)

    (AND, if he’s surrounded by girls he may never learn to lift his leg!)


  7. Rachel says:
    Monday, March 7, 2011 at 1:10pm

    Now I need to know where I can get that confidence building puppy toy or for my older dogs a self control toy 🙂 I guess from the kids department.
    Great vid, I enjoyed it very much.
    BTW I was so sure never getting a boy again – and certainly not two whole Malinois males in the house. Well I ended up with two of them and never regretted it. THo I do favor the girls 🙂


  8. Nancy says:
    Monday, March 7, 2011 at 12:14pm

    Love that wiggle ball toy. Where could I find one of those? It is so fun to watch this puppy grow! Keep up the amazing posts!


  9. Gabi says:
    Monday, March 7, 2011 at 6:05am


    i have to post something off topic –
    after following your blog and all the puppy stories i wondered how YOU handle the fact that so many people watch your steps. i mean no matter which puppy you will eventually pick – swagger or the girl – everybody is watching your improvement. i know its not your first dog so maybe you are already used to it?


  10. Shelley says:
    Sunday, March 6, 2011 at 8:04pm

    Love love love his cool toys! He sure is a confident little guy. So cute to see the sleeping baby at the end!

    Thanks for keeping the blog updated with stuff even though you are now a facebooker too!


  11. denise says:
    Sunday, March 6, 2011 at 6:19pm

    It’s great having an insight into how you raise your puppies…. very educational for me.

    How early did you start encouraging Swagger to tug??


  12. Alison says:
    Sunday, March 6, 2011 at 6:14pm

    So if you were to get one of the girl puppies, would they have had the same foundations that you are giving young Swagger?


    • Susan says:
      Sunday, March 6, 2011 at 8:21pm

      @Alison all breeders put their own ‘slant’ on foundation. The “UK girl” is being raised by a very knowledgable breeder who does go the extra mile with her puppies. The advantage the girl pup will have is the education from her four full time littermates! Swagger will still have a lot of work to do to overcome being a singleton.

      At 5 weeks he is already showing some signs of resource guarding. One of many things that will be worked on an ongoing basis!


      • Alison says:
        Sunday, March 6, 2011 at 9:57pm

        Sounds like you have found a great breeder.

        Very keen to see what strategies you use to overcome the resource guarding problem.

  13. Mary M says:
    Sunday, March 6, 2011 at 5:00pm

    Ummm so if I ever get a bred puppy (all ours are rescues so far) can they grow up with you? You are putting fabulous foudnations into place for him. Such a lucky puppy!


    • Susan says:
      Sunday, March 6, 2011 at 8:18pm

      Thanks Mary!


    • Brittany says:
      Sunday, March 6, 2011 at 8:22pm

      I totally second this! If I ever get a baby puppy, I am sending it to you!

      I love seeing how you are teaching him so much already.


      • Jean says:
        Monday, March 7, 2011 at 6:32pm

        When I get my next puppy, I would like to send the new puppy and MYSELF to Susan’s!


  14. Sheena says:
    Sunday, March 6, 2011 at 4:57pm

    hmm…just realized i didn’t include the date…it was from Nov ’09 🙂


  15. Sheena says:
    Sunday, March 6, 2011 at 4:48pm

    as i am currently reading thru your blog, just had to point out this quote i just found in your post on boys vs girls dated :))

    “I know if I bred Feature and she has only males, I will be owning a boy-dog, and it will be a great dog because I will believe in his potential and work hard to make him great (which won’t be hard if he is a puppy from Feature:)).”

    just sayin’…please don’t ban me from further reading 😉


    • Susan says:
      Sunday, March 6, 2011 at 5:40pm

      @Sheena, thanks for the chuckle and no you won’t be banned!:)


      • Shelley says:
        Sunday, March 6, 2011 at 8:03pm

        LOL, I remember that quote! Too funny.

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