In a webinar hosted by the AKC Detection Dog Task Force (DDTF) earlier this week, five industry experts participated in a panel discussion on desired characteristics for 3-6-month-old puppies who are preparing for a career in detection work. The experts agreed that environmental stability, socialization and physical exercise all combined create an independent, resilient future detection dog. During these months it’s important for puppy raisers to also realize that sometimes less is more. It’s easy to overwhelm a young puppy with numerous repetitions or too much stimulus too quickly. While it is important to introduce loud noises, siren flashes and other distractions, stimuli should be balanced with calmer “down” time. Keep it interesting and fun!
Teething can be an issue during this time of a puppies’ development, too. Be cognizant of new and/or different behaviors that may come to surface because puppies are experiencing sensitivity in their mouths. When venturing out on socialization trips, keep your puppies’ health of upmost concern, be aware of how they are feeling, and make sure to be aware and respectful of your surroundings. The panelists agreed that vaccinations are crucial for protecting the pups. If taking pups out before they are puppy vaccinated consider ways to keep them safe, such as using a baby carrier to keep the pup off the ground.
Resilience, the ability for a puppy in training to recover from changes or a stressful situation and continue to work without needing an extended period of recovery is a key attribute of successful future detection dogs. If the puppy consistently needs a recovery period after daily training sessions, this can be a signal or pattern of behavior that the puppy may not be a suitable detection candidate.
To learn more, view a recording of “AKC DDTF Webinar Series: 3 – 6 Month Puppies, Getting Started Right for Detection Work”.
DDTF plans to continue this webinar series with the next one (date to be announced) covering puppies aged 6 – 9 months.
Please join us for our next scheduled webinar - Tuesday, October 12, 2021 7:30pm ET, “Studying and Educating the Decontamination of Working Dogs” Panelist: Erin Beth Perry, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Equine Science Internship Director, Canine Sciences Faculty Mentor, Southern Illinois University.