Puppy work - Beginning of "choice"

There are many ways to start a puppy or young dog on work.  This happens to demonstrate one of my favorites.

In this video, puppy Kismet (11 week old Dutch Shepherd) and her mom are having their first lesson on recall away from distractions, a bit of heeling, and "go play".  Mom doesnt' always do exactly the right thing at the right time, but it works anyway.  Both mom and puppy will get better with experience.

In this video, I'm combining three concepts in one lesson - choice (work or free time), recall and heeling.

"go play" - you are free to do as you wish.   Kismet chooses to explore when allowed - that will often change as the weeks go by.  By allowing the puppy to choose between what she is likely to want to do (explore) and what you want her to do (work), you can be sure you're not overwhelming the puppy.

"Come" is rewarded with exciting praise every time and a cookie most of the time.  The puppy is also rewarded with the option to "go play" again.  Recalls don't end the fun; they simply interrupt it with praise and cookies.

When the puppy begins to show more interest in you, turn your left side towards the puppy and walk away.  Most puppies "fall" into heeling - reward.  That is the beginning of heeling.

What a nice puppy!




That puppy is to die for! I have serious Dutch Shepherd puppy lust now. Great job by mom on being a supportive, fun handler.

Kathie R

Now I really do have puppy envy! However, until I can get a puppy I’m going to try all these training tips on my seven-year-old dog : )

Denise, I’m so glad you started this blog. I’ve been watching your videos for some time and love how enthusiastic and attentive your dogs are. Thanks!


Great start on shaping heeling! I was confused as to the timing of releasing the puppy with “go play.” Was the mom supposed to say it right after rewarding each time?


Joanna, Ideally, she would have either released the pup back to play after each recall, OR turned her side while maintaining connection to get the start of heeling. Puppy doesn’t’ have to return to sniffing unless she chooses to; if she chooses to stay then handler should offer work/opportunity for reward. This was the handlers first session with this kind of training,and she is able to do what most people cannot; praise with great enthusiasm. I find that is much harder to teach than the stuff she missed, so mostly I ignored the mistakes and will work on them over the next few sessions. She’ll have it soon enough.

Kathy Marshall

Very, very nice!

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