All three of us (Sarah, Jennifer, and Esteban) have recently raised a puppy, so we are very aware of the challenges. Raising a puppy can provoke anxiety in many agility competitors because they have high hopes for their new puppy. These expectations can put a lot of pressure on a trainer because they feel 100% responsible for their future performance in the sport. Trainers should keep in mind that dogs have their own personality, preferences, strengths, and weaknesses. Be patient and give your puppy time to develop both physically and mentally. In our view, the big goal for puppy raising should be to give your puppy confidence in both you and the world around them. For training, the most important skill to develop is a strong desire to work for either food or play (usually tugging) in a variety of environments. The desire to eat or play becomes the motivation that drives your training later. Click here for 3-time 20” AKC National Champion Sarah Baker’s checklist for the first 6 months: Checklist for the First 6 Months
Sarah Baker also joined us for a detailed hour-long presentation on puppies here: Let's Talk Puppies!
In this podcast, we share how you can set proper expectations for your puppy: Great Expectations for Your Puppy
In this article (with video), we share three basic puppy games that everyone should start on day one—two-person recalls, touching a disc, and tugging: 3 Exercises for Your Puppy/New Dog
In this podcast, we talk about the growing pains of raising a puppy and the lessons we are learning with our new puppies: Our New Puppies Teach Us Five Lessons
Do you want to know how great trainers raise a puppy? Learn more about our online puppy course.
If you want your dog to excel at tugging in order to take advantage of organizations that allow training in the ring with tug toys but not food, then you should instill a love for tugging when your dog is a puppy. We have a comprehensive, easily followed online course called The Complete Guide to Tugging that has many videos of age-appropriate tugging games and skills for puppies.