Welcome to this weeks edition of the ADNZT Dog Blog. With a few of us either recently, or about to shift house, this week we look at how the ADNZT dogs learn to adapt in their different homes. Many thanks this week to Julie Hancox, our founder and Client Manager for the material for this weeks blog, and to Rachel and Tracey (our puppy raisers from an earlier blog), for supplying some photos.
Last week we were at the vets with the ‘K’ litter for the 12 week check up. What a lot of busy fun that was :-).
Even at the tender age of 12 weeks, the ‘K’ litter pups are getting used to different people doing different things for them, and they’re also settling into new routines with their puppy raisers and starting to develop their social awareness and sociability skills. At this impressionable age, we cannot emphasise enough, the importance of consistent rules and procedures that will see the pup through to a successful career in the future. This is just one of the areas that make our puppy raisers such special and important people!
Once the puppies leave the security of their Mum, littermates and the ADNZT kennel environment, they start to learn about adaptability and coping with change.
The first new environment they encounter is that of the puppy raisers home. Whilst it is always exciting to have a new puppy in the house, these puppies come with a set of procedures and boundaries that will provide ongoing consistency when they move on to other homes during their development, training, and eventual placement. These rules include things like:
Not jumping on furniture and beds.
Not rushing to the door to greet guests.
Discouraging barking at the arrival of someone at the door.
Traveling in the well of the car (see our blog ‘On the road’ from a couple of weeks ago).
Not sitting under the dining table while people are eating.
Sitting before getting their bowl.
Whistle blow feeding.
Learning to lay quietly in a crate, (and then on their beds when they’re older.)
Crate training is a very important aspect of settling into a new home. This is where the pup first learns that is is their safe place – a place to observe the world without interference. It’s important that the pup is left alone in the crate, and not disturbed. As they mature, the crate is replaced by the bed, but the same rules apply. The bed is a safe place to rest. It gives them the same sense of security wherever they go – puppy raisers, trainers, boarders and clients. When the dog is placed in a new environment, the family is asked to establish a sleeping space (either crate or bed), in a place that is out of the way, but still in view of the family and the goings on. This gives the dog the chance to observe the way everyone moves and interacts. That way they feel included but without the constant commands and demands for their attention.
Bowls, whistles and equipment follow the puppy throughout their lives. Some puppy raisers may supply a favourite toy once the pup moves on to training as well as a wee blurb about the dogs likes and dislikes that help the next home get to know the dog more intimately. Each dog has its own personality and quirks, so the build up of this knowledge over their development years can only help when they are placed with their special client.
The whistle is a particularly important aspect of training and consistency. In the beginning, the whistle is used to allow the pup to eat from his/her bowl. This sets up such a positive connection with the whistle that it can then be used as a training aid to assist with recalls in the park, allowing the correctly trained dog to run free. With the dog being handled by so many different people throughout their development, the whistle provides a constant pitch. So even when the relationship between dog and handler is new, and there is a new voice to recognise, the whistle (when used correctly) is a call that the dog will recognise immediately. When used in conjunction with the new handler, it can often help with the building of a new relationship.
Puppies/dogs also spend time in the ADNZT kennels (during puppy raiser breaks, seasons and desexing). This time can be very beneficial for allowing them to gain a sense of their own independence. It’s also an opportunity for them to have ‘time off’ from being out and about. Having them spend time at the kennels in their first year of life is a way for them to build a sense of their own independence. to socialise with other dogs in the kennel and to blow away the cobwebs. It is very much a no pressure environment with the only requirements being to sit before being fed, come when called to go back into the kennel. Some dogs will bark initially as they are used to having the constant attention and closeness of being with their human caregiver. However, learning to be left is also a very important factor to encourage independence and also prepares them for any future situation in life that may arise where the dog must be left in a kennel facility.
At three months of age, all dogs need to be registered with the local council. ADNZT pups are often moved between Otorohanga, Hamilton, Bay of Plenty, and Auckland to name just a few places. Whilst there is no charge for registering ADNZT dogs, there still needs to be a record of them, and for ease of administration, all the ADNZT pups are registered with the Otorohonga District Council, who are very efficient at updating our tags and records. They are also able to advise us if any of the dogs are ‘picked up’, so the appropriate people can collect them asap! When the dogs move on to their permanent client, the registration will then be moved to the appropriate council.
All ADNZT dogs are also registered with the New Zealand Companion Animal Council. ADNZT are left on this register as either the primary or secondary contact at all stages of the dogs life.
By the time the pups/dogs get to move on to their formal training phase, they have had a mixture of puppy raiser time and kennel time. They will have been introduced to many people, and several different environments. All this adds to their adaptability, and they ususally have a sense of natural independence and confidence in their own ability. It all makes for a smooth transition into the training phase.
Julie is our client Manager, so is very involved when the dogs move into their new clients homes. She spends time with the dog and the client to ease both parties into a successful relationship. Of this transition, Julie says:
‘Once the team training starts I believe they begin to understand the ‘why’ of all that training and ‘puppy raising’. I am not really sure why or how … but when a team is matched correctly and the family is committed to the program and their assistance dog, there seems to be a switch that is turned …. and suddenly it is as if their dog has always been there. There is a sense of comfortable and relaxed completeness to the family from which the miracles seem to come as these dogs now begin to surprise even us with their insight, skills and dedication.
Puppy raisers are not forgotten…. a visit or sudden meeting will usually bring about a full blown ‘puppy attack’ as they jump and wiggle with delight (which is why we have to caution you all about approaching if you do see your dog out working)! But somehow it seems that the bond you once had with your furry bundle, while still present, has now grown into something more in the adult dog, who will let go of his puppy memories, settle his mind and turn with adoration and loyalty … to his work, to his master or mistress and to his charge.’
So…whilst this blog started after shifting house and wondering how the ADNZT dogs adapt to their new homes throughout their young lives, I have finished this blog with even more admiration for the work done by ADNZT and our dedicated workers. Settling a dog into a new, established home, is somewhat easier than settling a dog when ‘shifting house’. This is because the home is already settled and established. With the dog given his/her own sleep and rest space there is a calmness to the arrival. There is no unpacking or shuffling of furniture. Of course, the ADNZT dogs are also bred for temperament, and that all helps to get the result we’re after.
Thanks again to Rachel and Tracey for the photos and to Julie for her massive input and knowledge.
Assistance Dogs New Zealand is a charitable trust that is funded solely by the generosity of sponsors, donors and supporters. If you’d like to help support this outstanding organisation, puppy sponsorship just might be the way you can. Check out our puppy sponsorship page here.
If that’s not your cup of tea, one off donations are all gratefully received. :-).
Have a great week.