Breeder Bits – Tips on Training in the Whelping Box

whelping box


Pam Blair of Home Grown Trilogy Labrador Retrievers & Golden Retrievers starts attention work and trick training before her puppies leave for their new homes. The Connecticut resident says her new owners are amazed when their pups can wave “hi” to them. She tells us how she makes it work:

“Once the pups know I exist and can follow me from one side of the whelping box to the other, the training begins. My hand is really the first thing they get used to seeing through petting, and, after discovering the joy of the touch, they actually look for the hand. I use my finger to show them that I want them to ‘watch me’ by first showing affection with the hand, and then I put a finger to their nose and then to my nose with the command watch me. Of course, they are only 4-to-5-weeks old and have no idea what watch me really means. But, with consistency and dedication, by the time they leave the whelping area at 6-to-7 weeks, they know watch me.

“We also teach the pups ‘say hi,’ which is one of my favorites. To see a very young pup say hi is a head-turning experience. When the families pick up their 8-week-old pup, they are totally amazed that the pups know this trick. The command is taught by first luring them into a sit. Then I hold a treat above the pup’s head, and 9 times out of 10, the pup will raise one paw up off the floor. The pups are concentrating, not only on the treat, but also on the motion of the trainer. It works every time!“

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