Updated: Jan 22
In anticipation of the pups going to their new homes, I decided to begin leash training with the litter. I selected Sequoia as the pup to start with because he has been consistently the first pup to offer behaviors to me, and he has always been very confident. What I found on this day is that Sequoia had entered his predictable fear period. This meant that I needed to adjust my training plan for him.
The pups have never been away from each other. Since they have been on my ranch (two weeks) they have not been inside a building other than my large, open barn. They are not thrilled about being carried. And, they have never worn a leash or a harness.
When I took Sequoia into the granary to start our training session I found that just being carried by me, being away from his siblings, and being in a building was the lesson for that day. Had I pushed forward with my original training goals I might have taught Sequoia to be fearful of any part of what I was trying to teach him because dogs form associations that make sense to them but may catch a trainer by surprise.
The next day I redesigned my training goal of introducing Sequoia to a leash and harness. Keeping him in the barn he is familiar with, and within sight of his siblings, I put a leash and harness on him. This session went much better for him!
Prior to eight weeks of age, puppies are programmed to be curious and open to new experiences. At about this age they begin to shift toward cautiously investigating their world. Add another week or two and they move towards more balanced exploration again. Training during this sensitive period needs to keep this developmental window in mind.