By Jennifer Broome
In May 2018, we welcomed Quinebaug’s Sweet Filly in the Ferns to our QK Pack. Filly was born on March 28th and she is our new Labrador Retriever puppy. With incredible genetics behind her— including her 2016 National Field Trial Champion sire—this little girl is destined to be a good one! Well, we could not be more pleased with this puppy. Filly is the first Lab puppy (that I have owned) that I am raising with the Hunt Smith Silent Command system which was taught to me over 5 years ago by Rick Smith. I have been a diligent student ever since and the results speak for themselves! I honestly could not be more pleased with Filly.
From the start, Filly learned her early point of contact neck pressure training by spending time with me out on the patience chain. This confinement training for such a young puppy helps to teach her manners, patience, and an understanding that to be most comfortable she simply needs to lie down and chill out. If she tries to lunge, pull on their collar, or fight the fact that she is confined by the neck collar, she will get nowhere fast. All of this early conditioning is figured out by the pup and I am away at a distance. I am not part of the pulling, the temper tantrum, or fighting the pressure. Again, the pup figures it out! What does this lead to? It helps the pup respect point of contact pressure on their necks and they learn to follow or move into the pressure, not fight it. Additionally, any time I approach Filly on the chain, I am calm, relaxed, and use my body language to teach her to sit and be still with a mind ready and open to work with me.
Next task is the proper use of the Command Lead or Wonderlead developed by Delmar Smith. My goal is to use very light hands and light point of contact touch to get Filly to follow me politely. She learns to move with me, stop and be still, come to me, and go away to a destination all with this light leash pressure. With softness, Filly quickly learns to follow my leash pressure. Additionally, we use a challenging obstacle course to teach her to face difficult tasks to improve her confidence, her willingness to try new, scary hurdles and to ‘TRY’ all the while being light and cooperative on leash.
I was NOT digging today!
When started properly, my goodness are puppies responsive!
Filly has never known rough hands from a human. From the way we touch her to our daily interactions, we are kind and gentle. We display our leadership by not allowing her into our space by jumping, play biting, or roughness. We NEVER play tug of war, roughhouse, wrestle or teach her that humans are simply play toys. When does Filly have fun? On her long off-leash hikes, her playtime with other puppies (THEY get to play rough), her fun retrieving work, and her calm cuddle time with us.
It is now mid-October and Filly is 6 months old. She has lost her puppy teeth and her adult teeth have emerged. She spends plenty of time in her crate practicing patience, manners, and solo time with healthy chew bones to promote good chewing (great for dental care) as well as good busy work.
Any and every time we have her outside, she is under our watchful eye. If she is left alone, it is only in a puppy-safe outdoor kennel run or fenced-in play yard. Her worst habits are playing in the mud, digging in her water bucket, and maybe occasional barks. Other than that she is a pretty good citizen. Why? Because I focus on a consistent schedule of crate time, patience chain time, long walks to tire her out, romps with other dogs to REALLY wear her out, and short leash workouts with extremely high standards to get her thinking and cooperating. This schedule and dedication on our part keeps her doing healthy, positive things. Additionally, she gets plenty of truck rides safely in a crate, ATV rides in a cage, swimming time, time afield chasing live birds, exposure to new people, places and other pups. All of this early training, exercise, and socialization efforts help to nurture and create one happy, healthy, stable, and well-balanced dog!
As Filly continues to grow and mature into her seventh month I will ask more of her through more intense obedience skills and even higher standards. It is amazing how capable pups truly are and how willing pups they to step up and learn. They thrive on it!
Look for our next article to see how Filly has grown, matured and what new skills she has learned.