We believe strongly that what is accomplished, and how it is accomplished, during the first critical 12 weeks of a puppy's life is paramount to its success, happiness, and health (physical and emotional) throughout its lifetime.
That's why Pickwick Pug puppies do not just sit in the playpen by themselves all day with a bunch of toys. Of course, they have plenty of toys, but we also work daily with each puppy from the minute they are born until they leave us to go to their new homes at 12 weeks of age.
It actually starts around day 3 when we begin the Early Neurological Stimulation exercises . . .
. . . lots of daily handling and stimulation of the GR gene . . .
As soon as a puppy is able to eat gruel (mushy food ... the first step after nursing) we begin clicker training and "loading the clicker"
Using positive clicker training, the most important thing we teach each and every puppy is how to learn. We include lots of "shaping games", barrier challenges, and other activities which teach them to think and we work on hard on important life skills like "watch me", "leave it", "drop it", sit, stand, down, loose leash walking. crate training, and even fun tricks like shake, bow, and spin.
Puppy owners have told us how amazing their Pickwick Puppy was at Puppy Kindergarten classes, far surpassing other 'pupils'. Here's Moose graduating "top of his class" ;) from his class in New York City.
It's so rewarding to hear feedback about a Pickwick puppy like this . . .
Moose did wonderful at his first day of puppy kindergarten. We were the only people who had our dog NOT on a harness, per your good advice, and the trainer was very impressed by that!! He's such a treasure. He is by far the best puppy in his puppy class ;) The trainer keeps posting videos of him on Instagram showing off his impulse control. Thanks for doing such a good job with him before we even picked him up!!"
It makes us so happy! Not just because of all the many hours we put into training and socializing each puppy, but also because we know that the puppy will be happier and have a more enjoyable life than if we had just allowed it to sit around in a pen all day with a bunch of toys. ;)
Here are some scenes from Moose's 'graduation' from Pickwick Pugs' Star Puppy Academy, before he left for NYC. "SPA" lol is appropriate, because every graduation ceremony ends with a painting session followed by a bath and grooming!
The temperament testing we complete when the puppy is around 8 weeks of age helps us to not only match each puppy up with the best fit for a future home, but also lets us know what to focus on in the remaining weeks the puppy.
Once we know where a specific Pickwick Pug will be going (at around 9 weeks) we then customize the training to afford the puppy the greatest chance of success and easiest adjustment possible. For example, we knew Moose was going to heading to New York City, so we took a lot of socialization trips downtown so he would get used to car noises and such.
Since our puppies live with us in our home, they receive invaluable "real life" lessons ... important customs and manners to thrive in the dog world, from their littermates, aunts, uncles, cousins etc., and important customs and manners to thrive in the human world from hanging with "the humans" ;).
Puppies helping cook Thanksgiving Dinner!
While it's impossible to introduce a puppy in 12 weeks to EVERYTHING they'll encounter in life, we work hard to give each puppy the "so what" factor making future encounters with novel things, people, places, experiences will be easier for them.
"Think for a minute about the characteristics you would want to see in a puppy, whether that puppy belongs to you or is one that you encounter. Most people would probably list confidence, good manners, housetrained, healthy, friendly, and happy on the list of desirable traits. On the other hand, a puppy that cowers with fear, barks incessantly, jumps up on you, destroys your possessions when you aren't looking or nips at your heels has behaviors that are not so desirable." --- AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy
Similar puppy training programs and "bootcamps" can cost anywhere from $7,000-$20,000, in addition to the price of the puppy and so often, the puppies are sent to training facilities where they are housed in kennels, separated from their littermates and mother too early, and in actuality only receive minimal attention and training day.
Pickwick Pugs believes there are 4 important elements that go into making a puppy a STAR!
1) Socialization (we expose puppies to a wide variety of new things, including people, places, and objects in the environment)
2) Training (for puppies, training goes hand in hand with socialization; puppies need to be trained how to interact with people and other dogs)
3) Awesome Genes (Beauty and Brains is our motto! We only breed pugs with immaculate pedigrees who pass important standards of temperament.)
4) Research (At Pickwick Pugs we are constantly learning more and more about the latest research on our breed, ranging from the latest health screening tests available, to the latest treatments, discoveries in nutrition and supplements, or advances in the field of animal behaviorism as we learn more and more about the canine brain.)
Sometimes, when people consider getting a puppy, they think of training but they forget to think of the importance of socialization throughout the puppy's life. To socialize a puppy means to expose him to a wide variety of new things (including people, places, and objects) in the environment. Socialization should continue throughout a dog's life, but it is most especially important during the puppy's first 3 months of life. "While a puppy comes readily equipped with plenty of instinctual behaviors, in many ways his young brains is like a blank slate ready to learn about life. Failure to be exposed at an early age to the kinds of things he will encounter later in life makes it much more difficult for a puppy to learn to cope with the world later on." --- AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy
Each Pickwick Pug Puppy enjoys daily, individual training sessions. All master important life skills and many even obtain their 1st "AKC Title" in Novice Tricks before even going to their new home! We use positive, clicker training techniques and, by the time Pickwick puppies go to their new home, they've worked daily on important skills like:
It is our hope that their new owners will continue to train them throughout the remaining weeks of the critical socialization period, throughout their puppy months, and throughout their life. It will be the responsibility of the puppy's new owner(s) to continue working with the puppy with "proofing" and taking skills to the next level. For example, the pups have only worked on loose leash walking at home and not on public streets and places with distractions (because they were not fully vaccinated against things like Parvo). New owners will want to continue fading lures so a down will eventually be a more "elegant down" where a simple verbal command (or hand signal) is all that is needed, or they will want to continue building duration of focus (watch me) and things like sit stays. It's almost as if we've gotten your puppy through perhaps 4th or 5th grade by age 12 weeks after which the new owner(s) can have fun taking the puppy through high school and beyond throughout its lifetime. But, you'll have a pupil that has learned how to, and is eager to learn. That's half the battle.
So if a puppy's new owner(s) decide they want to teach a new skill, the puppy will be ready to learn and know how to learn, like Marie Claire at her first piano lesson.