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Selecting And Raising The Potential Police Pup

R. S. Eden

Some light training may be done prior to the pup reaching six months of age and preferably by eight months. This allows the animal time to mature, and also allows his neck muscles to strengthen so that he is capable of withstanding proper choke chain correction as this is the majority of corrective actions which will be used during our training procedures.



Now that we have chosen the puppy, we have to raise him in a manner which will prepare him physically, mentally and emotional ly for Police Service work.

First of all, take the puppy home and introduce him to his new environment. Give him a place that is his own, where he can go to be alone if he desires. Allow him to investigate his surroundings and explore his new habitat.

Prior to bringing your puppy home, decide on what diet to feed, and remember that the nutritional requirements for a puppy will not be the same as that of an adult dog.

Once our puppy is settled in, the first and foremost train ing task is that of housebreaking. The best way I have found to persuade him to do his business where required is simply to make sure he spends a lot of time outside at the same location and on the same schedule each time. Praise him everytime he is success ful. Put him out immediately after feeding, immediately upon awakening in the morning and after any naps. If you prefer that he uses a particular spot, take him to that area each and every time.

At night keep him confined to a small area with one side being his sleeping area and the other side being his training area. If you find your puppy is not succeeding in training try using a small kennel such as those the airlines use and lock him inside during his sleeping periods. He will not soil or wet his own bedding if he can possibly help it. Upon awakening, lift him immediately outside and as soon as he does his business give him lots of praise.

A verbal scolding is in order if he has an accident, but remember he,like any infant, is still learning control, so don’t overdo it. Scold just enough to let him know you are disappoint ed, not angry. It won’t be long before you will be succesful.

Another immediate priority with your new puppy is to help him through his teething stage, usually around ten to twelve weeks of age. Your puppy should be provided with rawhide chewa bles or even Milkbone to chew. He should also be given a toy which he can play with and chew. These articles will tend to satisfy his need to chew and assist to stop destructive chewing on furniture. If you find him chewing on anything other than his permitted alotment correct him firmly and immediately. Never correct him unless you catch him in the act or you will do more harm than good.

Should destructive chewing persist, see your veterenarian and have your puppies diet checked. He may be suffering from a mineral deficiency. This deficiency may even cause the pup to chew at his own coat, a form of self destructive chewing. Should there be a chance of mineral deficiencies, attempt to correct it using organic mineral supplements, rather than chemical. The organic supplements have a tendency to give better success. My own dog went through this stage and chewed himself raw in spots until his diet was changed and mineral supplements given. I have found a product called SULFODENE, readily available throughout America and in British Columbia, gives excellent results for topically treating these and similar “hot spots”.

The most important thing to remember while raising your puppy is to let him be a puppy. Allow him to go through his adolescent and teenage periods as a puppy. Do not expect results as you would from an adult dog. This is important for his emo- tional maturity. It doesn’t mean however, that you can’t start training your puppy before he is nine months of age. On the contrary, as you associate with your puppy encourage him to do simple excercises. Show him how to sit, using the appropriate command, and make a game out of it. Every time he wants a treat, make him sit and then reward him with praise and the treat. When you see him starting to lie down, do a bit of word association by commanding “DOWN” as he performs the task. Once he lays down give him lots of praise. He was going to lie down anyway of course, but it won’t be long before this word association with this and other natural movements will start to mean something to him. As well as the word association take the time to gently place him in the desired positions and use the appropriate com mands. NOTE: SEE CHAPTER 8 ON HAND SIGNALS. Don’t make a long training session out of it, just do it periodically throughout the day, once or twice each time. He will soon catch on, and everything he learns now will make things much easier when we start on his formal training.

This time of your puppies life is vital in the makeup of his personality and how he will grow up and socialize. Keep this in mind and mould him into the type of dog you want.

Take a lot of time with your puppy to play games with him. Two very important games which most puppies love are to fetch a ball and tug of war.

First of all, in regards to fetching, do not expect your puppy to retrieve the ball back to you right away, as this will come with time. It is usually best that the ball also be his toy to play with. This way he becomes attached to it and is more likely to pick it up and carry it back to you. My preference is to use a hard rubber ball. Soft rubber or tennis balls can be chewed up by your puppy and ingested. This is dangerous and can be potentially life threatening. A recent example of this type of problem occurred when an officer noted his partner to be vomiting and losing weight. All attempts to cure the animal failed until the veterinary surgeon ordered a series of x-rays. The x-rays showed a collapsed tennis ball lodged in the dogs intestine. Surgery to remove the ball was succesful and the animal recovered fully. Had the problem not been discovered when it was, the results could have easily been fatal shortly thereaf ter.

Also ensure that the ball is not small enough for the dog to choke on. Recently an officer had a bad experience when his partner got a hold of a racquet ball. Because of its size it easily slipped into the dogs throat and the animal came very close to choking to death. Fortunately veterinary assistance was close by and the dogs life was saved. Had the problem not been discovered quickly and urgent medical attention given the results quite likely could have been fatal.

Once you throw the ball, use the word “FETCH” to associate the command to the game. If he picks up the ball, coax him back to you and associate it with the command “COME”. Always make sure the game is fun and never force your puppy or expect him to continue the game once he tires of it. Like any child his atten tion span may be very short.

For tug of war take a towel or gunny sack and gently tease the puppy with it until he shows an interest in it. See if you can keep his interest in it. He may not make any attempt to grab it at first, but if enticed carefully, it won’t be long before he does. While teasing him with the towel use the words “TAKE HIM”. Be excited, get him playful so he wants to play the game. If he grabs the towel let him have it and give him lots of praise. Keep at it until over a period of time you can have a good strug gle over the towel. When you have him playing well and you want him to learn to let go of the towel, stop struggling, hold the towel firm and still, and sharply use the command “OUT”. He may continue the game, but don’t comply. Command “OUT” again sharp ly, and using your forefinger over his nose and placing your thumb in the corner of his mouth between his teeth, gently sepa rate his jaws enough to release the towel. Again repeat the command and when the towel is released praise the dog.

Remember always to use only one word commands where possi ble. In some cases two words are acceptable. Use his name frequently and as a key word for any movement command. This clues him in and lets him know to pay attention to the command.

Don’t forget he is still a puppy. He needs to grow up and to act like a puppy. He needs to explore and investigate the things around him. His attention span will be short and he may lose interest in things quickly. Let him enjoy these early parts of his life. Make them fun and he will still amaze you with the amount he learns. Make sure you are his best buddy.

Note: More advanced information on this subject during sessions instructed at the International Police K9 Conferences held annually in various locations throughout North America.

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