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So you just got a stock dog puppy! What now?

Often times everyone who brings home a working bred puppy have big ideas and dreams on how that puppy will perform when it comes of age. What they fail to take into account is the baseline training that needs to happen as the puppy grows into a size large enough mentally and physically to handle livestock. Most pups are not ready to start serious training until close to 1 year of age. You can put a lot of commands on them and use them up until then but mentally and physically I like to start them on heavier traing at 1 year.

I like to make sure that the puppies I raise are allowed to be puppies and explore their surroundings (within reason) for a large chunk of the day, to help satisfy their curiosity and to exercise their minds. However they do need boundaries set and to establish that YOU are the one that is in charge. When you ask them to do something you must make sure that they listen. We make sure that they are crate, kennel, and trained. They cannot be allowed to run free for large portions of the day unsupervised and to devise their own games. No chasing livestock, poultry, or vehicles.

I like to take my pups with me when I do chores and get them acclimated to the hustle and bustle of farm activity. The more they can see livestock the more they will become used to routine and later help you move them. Take them out and put them on a leash so they cannot leave and run back to the house/barn or occupy themselves with finding something else more entertaining to pursue. Do not tell them 'NO' or discourage them from trying to move livestock UNLESS they are yanking and pulling on leash and not listening to anything you say. Simply keep them on a leash and stop them from pursuing. If you want to push the livestock around with the pup then make sure you have them on a leash and it doesn't become a game of chase and bite. You want the pup listening to what you say and not just reacting.

I've encountered a few different types of pups over the years, mind you these were from working parents, I've seen pups that were shy of livestock (I consider it self preservation) until they were old enough to be able to handle livestock and then there are pups who dive right in and cause chaos almost 24/7 and do not care if they are injured. I cannot see that either pup is better than the other as an adult. Both will cause you stress from either chasing them down and containing them or worrying if they will be good in the working department as an adult.

I have heard of people who gave up on pups who do not automatically take to working young as they assumed the pups were duds. I've also heard of people who rehomed or euthanized pups who were too chaotic and wild. The key to both is patience and persistence to enforce commands and to navigate all obstacles based upon the pup they have and not the pup that they envisioned and dreamed of. I have yet to see a puppy mature out EXACTLY how my mind envisioned it.

Then there is another type of puppy that we all would LOVE to have and I've been fortunate to have a few, however, I would not consider them better dogs as adults than the other two above. Simply easier on our minds as puppies. These are the pups that seem to listen to everything you say and try to do it exactly the way that you want. They went to work at a young age but still had self preservation. Unfortunately you won't know until the pups are around 3-4 months old which type you have. Even then YOU as the trainer will have a big influence on the puppys confidence. I have seen even the most promising pups be shut down by an overy dominating trainer. On the flip side I have seen the shy and underconfident pup rise and shine with an encouraging trainer.

The biggest advise that I can give to everyone is to have patience, seek help and training if you are unsure of what you type of puppy that you have. Give the puppy plenty of exposure and make sure you set boundaries!

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