What your puppy learns before it arrives home

By Jennifer Stoeckl, MAT - Dire Wolf Project CEO, April 14, 2023
Excavator pup3
Excavator a new born puppy

I first began working with Lois Schwarz in 2006 to learn her way of breeding and raising dogs.

At that time, I did not know all the work that goes into what she does.

I thought much of the puppy raising was from the mamma dog.

Little did I know how much training and preparation a responsible breeder does to make sure each puppy is ready for its forever family.

Here at the Dire Wolf Project, we continue Lois’s incredible breeding legacy.

Before your new puppy arrives home, it has experienced a lot of initial socialization and manners training.

This greatly aids in your puppy’s ability to live happily in our human world.

One of the most vital skills a puppy can learn is what Lois calls Lap Therapy™.

Lap therapy™ teaches your puppy that humans are the leaders. During these sessions, puppies must also increase patience and forgo their own desires until a release command is given.

We begin by placing one puppy at a time on our lap and holding it there for a few seconds. We release the puppy before it begins to fuss, increasing the amount of time each session. However, should the puppy struggle to get down before the release, we remind the puppy it must be patient.

Soon, each puppy will be able to remain in the lap for at least three minutes before the release. This task is completed when the puppy realizes it must wait for the signal before it can be released.

It doesn’t take long to teach a smart puppy this skill, but the lifelong advantages are extremely beneficial.

Along with patience and gratification suppression, we also teach our puppies how to handle mild stress. As we all know, life isn’t always easy. Sometimes we must do things we don’t want to do or that scare us or make us nervous. Increasing a puppy’s bravery of unfamiliar tasks is a skill that lasts well into adulthood.

This weekend’s Dire Wolf Project YouTube video describes our work with the puppies to help them learn this vital life skill.

Each day we work with the puppies, we place each puppy on a wobble board. This unsteady surface causes initial uncertainty. With each passing day, the puppies understand the wobbly surface is not really as scary as it might have seemed on the first day.

When they overcome this first challenge, they are less afraid of other new challenges that might come about.

Next, we give each puppy the experience of being inside an unfamiliar, enclosed space. We use a round nylon tunnel for this task. We place the puppy inside the tunnel and allow the puppy to use its problem-solving mind to work the problem of being trapped.

At the beginning, puppies may worry about this new space. Over time, each puppy learns being confined is not as scary as once imagined.

Overcoming this initial uncertainty allows each puppy to build its confidence.

We also recently purchased 31.5 inch tall skid-proof stairs. When it arrives in a few days, each puppy will learn how to problem-solve climbing down these six steps.

Along with all of this, we also teach each puppy beginning manners.

Before your puppy arrives home, it understands the word “no”.

Your puppy also knows what a boundary is and not to cross it until the release command.

(FYI: We use “okay” as our release command)

In addition, puppies know that jumping doesn’t get them what they want. Sitting nicely is a much better way to receive affection from us humans.

Here is the link to this weekend’s video where we feature our work with the Dock of the Bay litter.