A trainer's puppy - Froot is 4 months old!
Froot has learned sooo much in the last 8 weeks and it’s been flying by. He is my puppy, a trainer’s puppy, so he gets the advantage of hitting the ground running with training from day one. His personality is continuing to develop and he’s a pretty chill dude.
So what have we been up to? My last update was quite some time ago and with the change of seasons the world has begun to wake up again.
Big body, puppy brain
Froot has grown like a weed. A few weeks ago at the vet he weighed nearly 30 lbs and I would be shocked if he isn’t now over 30. He is so dense!!
The brain though, it is very much a puppy brain with puppy thoughts. And this is a key factor that many people typically begin to forget as the outside of the dog just isn’t matching the inside anymore.
Like a small child, Froot is still learning how to regulate his emotions. Sometimes he may be hyper, frustrated, or distractible. These are all completely normal and it’s up to me as his handler to help him through these times. If he is frustrated in training, it’s up to me to help break things down into pieces that are understandable and more easy to manage, or to break off into something familiar to help him get back on track.
Although he is growing in confidence, there are times when he is very much just a small pup. For example, nighttime in the yard makes him nervous if he is alone. He does his business, with a little reluctance, and then scrambles back to the door. If I wait too long getting there to let him in, he does a very nervous loop of the yard, tail down and slightly tucked, ears back, eyes wide. It is not a place he would choose to be, and this is something that not only is on my list to work on slowly, but also a thing that will change in time as he grows more confident.
With the girls he is pushy with Forte, my small mal. He wants her to play, and she simply does not want to. In the past he will push and push and push, and she has the restraint of a saint. Well within her rights to nip him, she doesn’t. He is big enough now that I have taken it upon myself to moderate.
Moderation between dogs
How exactly I do this is very simple. Froot doesn’t get any free time with the girls if I can’t be in the yard. He drags a leash while he is out there, and if I see him harassing Forte I call him to me. His recall is strong enough that there is a 80% chance he will come away from her. If he does, I play with him and reward him for ignoring her. If he does not, I go to him, pick up the trailing end of the leash, and he gets crate time for 5 minutes or so.
This pattern is something that I can use because of the training he’s had with his recall. Normally it would be a matter of needing to physically step in each time, but as I said, with his current recall I am able to use it to my advantage. Everyone is happier without an obnoxious puppy hanging off their jowls or biting their legs every second.
Progress with this is not the quickest, but is visible. The times that I need to step in are already less. This is the kind of work that I am focusing on now because at 6 months I really don’t know how big he will be. I think it’s possible for him to be close to Forte’s size, and to outweigh her as he bulks up with muscles. So it is very important to head these things off before it’s physically harder to do.
Training out in the world
The same can be said for other skills as well. Loose leash walking work has not quite begun yet, but some of the foundation work is there. I’m much more concerned about his engagement and level of socialization. After all he can’t be wild and nervous out in the world. For a big dog, that’s potentially disaster. Having the ability to redirect him into a different task is important, and a skill that every dog should have at a bare minimum.
So who is Froot?
Even though it’s been 8 weeks of living with him day in and out, I still feel I’m learning about his personality. I think it’s still coming out as his confidence grows, and will continue to develop as his hormones begin to come in.
So far he has demonstrated an ability to be thoughtful. He loves to play and to work and train, although his thinking ability is pensive at times. He is still learning that he operates training and it’s not something that just happens, but the lightbulb is slowly beginning to turn on. He is a cuddler and the thing he wants to do most each morning is to cuddle and properly say good morning to me. It is actually a little funny because if I don’t stay and watch him do his business, he will quickly go, and the zoom back into the house, whining because he may not immediately find me. But then of course all is right in the world of Froot when he can lean on me and have my arms around him.
He can be impulsive, but this is a normal puppy trait, we will see how much of this will remain as he grows. He’s shown me his thoughtful side, I know it is in there. Day by day our relationship develops and I am excited to see where we end up. The life of a trainer’s puppy, Froot is fitting right in.