Welcome Quill to the family!

I’m not sure if we announced on the business page but we got a new puppy! We’ve had Bezequill (Quill) for a little over a week now. She’s a purebred working Australian Shepherd and so far she’s been a great addition to the family! She will be Sarah’s next herding dog and is a helper dog in training.

I thought I’d do a write up about what we’ve been working on if anyone is curious what a professional dog trainer’s puppy raising looks like.

Focus has been crate training, x-pen training, and starting learning how to be comfortable alone. We’ve done a bit of work on skills: started a hand target and started some lured position changes (sit, down, stand), and have done a bit of recall work which is really just reinforcing her natural choices to stick close and come back to me. I’ve also practiced some attention in different environments.

We haven’t worked much on leash walking. With young puppies I mostly just have them on a harness and let them go mostly where they please as long as they’re not pulling since exploring and exposure and feeling comfortable (not frustrated) on leash are more important for a baby dog than leash manners.

We’ve worked on being comfy with grooming and body handling. She’s pretty good for this, and accepts brushing and nail trimming well.

I’m teaching her to switch/trade for food if she has an object I need to take away from her, as resource guarding prevention.

She starts in our puppy classes this week so we’ll be doing more training with that!


So far, she’s been really good about not biting hard. Keeping her on a regular nap schedule ensure she doesn’t get too wild. Wild, bitey puppies are often over-stimulated or over-tired! I am doing soft mouth training where I let her mouth on me gently. If she puts too much pressure I yip like another dog would which communicates it was too much pressure. I also always have a toy around because even when she wants to be cuddly, sometimes she gets a bit mouthy when she’s excited! So that way I can hand her the toy to satisfy the excited mouthing and she can still chill with me.

Quill eating a meal in her pen.

Crate & Pen Training:
She sleeps in her crate and is going anywhere from 5-8 hours without needing a break which is excellent. She puts up little to no fuss at bed time.

She is on a pretty regular nap schedule where she gets a rest at least every 2 hours. She gets regularly crated a few times through the day for naps and meals. She tolerates this pretty well – she will fuss a bit if she’s a little wound up (first nap of the day) but settles quickly and rests. She rests a lot through the afternoon on her own.

She’s pretty great in the crate in the car and can tolerate an x-pen well in some situations. I’ve taken away the pen at home, since she’s pretty easy to supervise and her crate training is solid enough I can crate her when needed.

House training:
Housetraining is going pretty well. She’s got a bit better bladder control happening and we still have some accidents if I’m not paying enough attention. She prefers to go outside and is starting to drift to the door if she needs out sometimes. In a pinch she’ll go and use a wee wee pad which is totally fine by me. She’s learning the words “outside”, “go pee/poo/potty” just by association. It helps a lot that her breeder is wonderful and they had a great head start on crate and house training.

Socialization for puppies is super important but it’s not just about playing with other dogs! Socialization is all about exposing your puppy to everything in the world you want them to see as neutral or normal. We want to teach young puppies under 16 weeks old about encountering a lot of novel things. Their brains close off to new experiences at 16 weeks or earlier so socialization at an early age is critical. This is why attending a puppy class at an early age to expose to novelty and manufactured environmental stimuli before it’s totally safe for them to go everywhere can be so important.

So far she’s had a lot of exposure to different safe environments, people, other animals, sounds, surfaces, vehicles, etc. When young puppies don’t have all their vaccines you need to be careful about where you take them. I avoid high traffic dog areas like public parks or dog parks and stick with places where there’s little unknown dog traffic and hard surfaces like concrete instead of grass or dirt. She’s only been around dogs that I know are vaccinated or up to date on their vaccinations.

She’s playing with some dogs and is developing good dog social skills and is quite confident interacting with other dogs. She’s seen dogs of all different shapes and sizes. She’s been around dogs on leash, and been exposed to dogs barking around her. She’s learning that she’s allowed and encouraged to disengage and create distance (move away) from something she’s uncomfortable with on leash. She’s had a few (normal) moments of feeling frustrated on leash and she’s been allowed to move through that and been reinforced for a different choice after the fact.

She also hangs out in the store with us so she sees a lot of different people there. She had a visit to a friend’s place where she met her kids and cats, and had a “happy visit” to the vet as a tag-a-long for an appointment Dexter had.

She’s been around dogs on leash, and been exposed to dogs barking around her. She’s learning that she’s allowed and encouraged to create distance and move away from something she’s uncomfortable with on leash.

She came to Hope with me which was a puppy safe location to take her where she met/saw dogs, more farm animals and net a bunch of dog smart people. My dogs have to be used to riding in the van and travelling so good to start this young.

Next Steps:

My next focuses with her will be continuing to work to make sure her crate training is going well in different contexts. Last night she was crated in a new room while I taught classes. I’ll also be working more on making sure she learns to tolerate short bouts of being crated alone in the home – I’ll watch and listen on my camera to see how she tolerates this. At this point I know she may cry some if she’s unhappy about being crated, but that’s a normal and acceptable feeling for her age. She will get through it and settle herself quite quickly, so I’m not worried about it as she needs to learn how to cope with that.

We’ll be working more on body handling for vet and groomer and some co-operative care foundations. I teach my puppies some co-operative care but also to tolerate handling and restraint. We’ll do a happy visit with the groomer and she has a vet visit of her own coming up in a few weeks.

She starts our puppy class so she’ll be learning more puppy-focus training skills in class like settle on a mat, drop it, come when called etc. She’ll also get more practice engaging with me around distractions, more leash practice and lots of exposure to novel objects, sights and sounds in class.

House training is progressing really well so she should be going mostly outdoors and starting to recognize when she needs to go to the bathroom better and better.

I’ll continue to have her have supervised interactions with other dogs, and we’ll go to lots of different places and see lots of different people and things over the next 6 weeks!