Updated: Jan 23
The “fear period” is actually just a time of heightened sensitivity for pups. Typically these transient periods last for just a few days. It is important that extra care be taken during these times so that pups continue to learn only positive lessons; our training tasks are adjusted accordingly.
I do very little novel stimulus work if any of the pups seem wary – there is still lots to do! Environmental challenges are appropriate, as are lessons about behaviors I will eventually put on cue.
In the video, I am working with the pups in a field they have been in just once before, so this is of great interest to them, but since it isn’t new, it also feels safe to them. On this day, the few adult cows that we have came up to take a closer look at the pups. The puppies thought the cows were wonderful!
One of the cues I teach my pups is, “let’s go.” Said plainly…lead the way, pups! Puppies like to mill around at a person’s feet. Working dogs need to know there is a job to be done. When I give the pups this cue, it means that I want them out in front of me and traveling forward with purpose.
This is a great project to work on during a fear period because it is fun for the pups, and it isn’t the slightest bit scary. I walk the fields with the pups several times a day and reinforce this cue with enthusiasm in my voice. I add energy by clapping my hands or slapping the sides of my legs – and away we go!