My Thug Dog and Fear Periods.
As you may know we pride ourselves on supporting our owners. This support starts as soon as owners commit themselves to becoming a member of our family. We also have multiple honorary members of our family that we support when they reach out for help.
The dogs we breed are our family members first and foremost and when they retire they stay here with us.
We want to create happy healthy pups sound in health and mind. Pups similar to the kind we would want to own ourselves. For many years we have used a combination of tools that set all our pups up for life. One particular tool was created around 1970 by the U.S. Military. We have friends who use similar tools and positive reinforcement training to prepare dogs that will take on jobs such as police, security and scent work. We tweak the tools we use to suit our pups. A program such as Puppy Culture is amazing and also uses similar tools but some are not suitable for pomskies so we tweak things we want to utilise, omit things that are of no use and add our own tools in for good measure. By doing this we can ensure a well balanced pup that is ready to take on the challenges of the big wide world. At around 6-7 weeks of age the pups are assessed independently by a person that is unknown to them so we can ensure the right pup is going to the right family. We create confident pups that are not reckless or cocky, that have gone on to be support dogs and great family pets. We also notice other breeders following suit in what we do which makes us so proud knowing that we are setting the standard high which has a knock on affect within the whole breeding community.
Once we have set these pups up for life, it doesn't end there. The pups need to continue with their training. Off they go to their new homes and In steps the owners. We recommend positive training methods, have a training page for our owners and our extended community.
You gave me a perfect puppy, What happened?
Staying in touch with our owners not only gives us piece of mind we have made the right choice and placed our babies in the perfect environment but also allows us to support and guide owners as and when they need us to.
We often get asked where they are going wrong. Here we will try to answer this question.
Puppies have three fear periods. Around the time when they start to totter about the whelping box is the first the next when its around 8 - 16 weeks.
When a puppy is born it is dependent on his mother. Born deaf and blind he uses his senses to smell and find warmth which is provided by his mother. Protected in the whelping box the pups are safe and well cared for. Each day following the birth is a learning curve for the pups. Slowly they become more mobile, eyes start to open, they can see and begin to hear. They become easily startled. We start using our tools right from day one as long as mum is happy and pups are thriving, gently getting startling or stressing the pups so they can develop what is needed to deal with certain situations. By the time they are around 8 weeks they have reached their second 'fear period' We continue to use our tools and experience to ensure the pups are ready to go through big changes during this time. In addition the mother is still around and so is her pheromones. Pheromones are chemicals that dogs release. One in particular is the dog appeasing pheromone which helps to sooth and calm puppies. Puppies at this age have an instinct to follow and stay by the things they know so this would be the best time to teach recall.
Fast forward a few months and now our pups are older and out in the big wide world they have been living with their new families and settling well. Along comes their next main Fear Period. This one can happen between 6 and 14 months of age and we can notice changes in irregular intervals. Unfortunately it coincides with the adolescence stage which can also be somewhat of a challenge. Our usual advice here is go straight back to basics.
If you read our recent blog, An Unfortunate Event, you will have seen information on body language. You can use this to recognise signs of fear. Other signs include lip licking, tucked tail, wide eyed, panting, barking, and reacting to other dogs (fear aggression) This will help you understand whether the behaviour is fear related, adolescence, or both.
Not only have we reached the third fear period we also now have an inquisitive dog. Our growing pup may want to go and investigate new things but may also be startled and bolt. They become comparable with this teenager wanting to have wild parties once the parents leave for the night, having the sneaky cig behind the bike sheds at school and becoming unsure what to do with all these sexual feelings they are getting when they become over excited or aroused. Hormones are swooshing around their bodies helping them mature into adulthood both mentally and physically.
As we notice this change we need to make sure we are the most important thing in their life. We need to play games and build their confidence. In the early weeks we were encouraged to socialise our dogs. Have we stopped doing that? We need to do this more now. Take them out to different environments, different situations that have different kinds of stimulation. Take high value treats along with you on your outings. If you find your dog is fearful of something, take a step away and try to desensitise your dog. Thing like walking across a bridge may all of a sudden become the most frightening thing in the world. Getting to know your dogs body language will give you some indication of when your dog starts to get a little worried. At this point you need to get the attention of your dog and praise him for being confident, treats galore whilst you walk a little closer. Don't ask for too much, just take each step as it comes.
Our dogs can also come across some other dogs that may irritate them. Remember, even though our dogs are friendly, they don't have to love every dog that they come across. All dogs have different personalities. Some are in your face, some are giddy some quite and calm. We can't control the environment so we have to observe and make the best judgement. Some have had no training, have come from rescue or may have been mistreated. We have no idea how these dogs may react so maybe you can walk in a different direction, recall your dog and ask for a behaviour such as sit or a heel position. Continue to asses the situation
Another thing to remember is when your dogs are playing some can play a little rough. Some can look more aggressively than others. Again knowing your dogs body language and being able to recall your dog is vital at this time. A bad experience now can last a lifetime.
We also need to address the behaviour of out teenage dog and what to do. At this age they can become stubborn and mischievous. They know how to push our buttons and give us them puppy dog eyes. They start to be picky with food and wait for better offerings. They seem to become deaf overnight and forget all the commands they knew. Sometimes, because they are older now and can go on longer, more physical walks, they can become overstimulated and unable to chill when they get home. Some people suggest more exercise for dogs that wont or cant settle, this just increases their adrenaline which dogs struggle to get rid of.
Our suggestion here is to go back to basics, short, daily training sessions and give some mental stimulation. Stick to the food regime. Place the food down, 20 minutes max, if its not eaten, lift it up until next feeding time.
According to studies;
Most dogs (96%) that have been surrendered to a rescue center have had no obedience training.
Almost half of the dogs surrendered (47.7%) were aged between 5 months and 2 years. (During and post their fear period and adolescence)
The most common reason for surrendering dogs is that the owners are moving to a home that is not allowed dogs.
TO DATE, NONE OF OUR MOONLIT BABIES HAVE BEEN RE-HOMED DUE TO BEHAVIOUR PROBLEMS.
We pride ourselves in supporting our owners and other members of the pomsky community to ensure our pomskies have a furever home. Even if you are not a member of the moonlit family, please do not hesitate to reach out for behavioural advice.