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[MUSIC PLAYING] They're getting well on their feet now, and they're showing a big interest in the outside world. Their games become more sophisticated too, and they start chasing and pouncing more. Their interaction with toys evolves, and they go from just mouthing them to carrying them around and shaking them. Scientific studies have shown that physical exercise is a key component of the enrichment effect. Exercise is one of the things that causes the brain to grow larger and form more neural connections. So Thomas Jefferson was right, building a strong body does indeed build a strong mind. We take them out to play in the living room and stretched their legs whenever we can, but by the time the puppies are four-weeks-old, they need to be in an area where they can run freely at any time. This will help them grow fit and strong, and it will also help reduce friction in the litter. So we set up a six by eight weaning pen for them. We put a piece of linoleum cut slightly larger than six by eight down first to protect the floor. Then we use one by six lumber to build a rigid box to put our exercise pen in. We painted our lumber to keep it clean and used door hinges on the corners, but you can do something as simple as using precut raw lumber, drilling holes into the ends, and joining them with electrical ties. [MUSIC PLAYING] We use strap hinges to attach a cross-piece so we can create a potty area. Be sure to position the potty area so it's away from the entry to the room, otherwise the puppies will run through it every time someone comes to the door. The puppies need good traction, and they're not going to be perfectly litter-trained right away, so we use the same recycled hospital pads we used in the whelping box to line the weaning pen floor. They take to the potty area like ducks to water and waste no time in making themselves at home and living it up in their new habitat. [MUSIC PLAYING] Four-week-old puppies have no real fear. They'll approach and interact with anything you give them, so now is the time to keep introducing them to novel and challenging things on a daily basis. The reason we do this is that adult dogs instinctively view new things with fear and suspicion and possibly even aggression, but we can change this outcome for the puppies by intervening now so they learn to embrace new and challenging situations as good things. This is what we mean when we talk about the importance of raising puppies to be enrichment seekers. Even just changing objects in their daily routine is important. Introducing other common, friendly members of the household is also great stimulation for the puppies. Here's grandpa Augie coming in for a visit. The puppies new home is wonderful, and it gives them a chance to exercise, interact with new objects, and pick up social skills. They will certainly enjoy some developmental advantages from their rich environment, but a big space with toys and playmates alone is not enough for the puppies to benefit fully from the enrichment effect. Scientific studies have shown that the most critical elements of an enriched environment are learning and problem-solving. Animals who are given learning and problem-solving activities in addition to toys and social interaction, grow up to be more stable, less easily stressed, less easily frightened, with better learning and memory than animals who are given the same toys and social interaction, but no learning or problem-solving activities. So it's time for us to step in and start presenting the puppies with formal challenges. The first thing we do is start feeding the puppies in the kitchen, so they have to climb out of the weaning pen to get to the food. This always sets up a lot of frustrated screams, but the puppies quickly learn that yowling doesn't help. And they figure out how to get to the food on their own. Assuming your puppies are large enough to negotiate the board around the weaning pen, under no circumstances are you to help a puppy get over the fence. [DOG WHINING] There's always one puppy who doesn't want to do the work and figures he or she will get bailed out if they scream loud enough. This is Betty Pork and Beans trying her best to get picked up and carried over the board. [DOG WHINING] Come on. I'm not going to help you. You've got to get out. If I pick her up now, it'll be forever engraved in her mind that she doesn't have to think for herself and that screaming, barking, and whining gets results. If she can overcome her fears and self-doubt about this task, she'll be greatly empowered, more confident, and calmer in the future. She's the only one left in the pen, so it would be really stressful and even cruel for a puppy this young to be left behind that way, so I'm going to stay close to her so she knows she's not being abandoned, but I'm still going to ask her to take that one crucial step of empowerment. Come on. You're going to miss your meal. Here it is. Puppies are expert at making you feel sorry for them, and Betty puts on a command performance, but I know she can climb over this board. She needs to take that step on her own. Yay. Good girl. You made it. There you go Betty. You've taken another step toward growing up to be a great dog. There. It's not where you are, it's how far you've come. Goodness. Oh, my goodness. very difficult. All the puppies, including Betty, get the hang of climbing out of the weaning pen within a few days, so we add another challenge-- a speed bump. [MUSIC PLAYING] You have to be careful to set up an appropriate level of challenge. As you can see from this footage, the puppies don't have a lot of useful vision at this point. This puppy seems to be relying on smell and a very fuzzy sense of vision to find the food dish. This tells you that any visual or spatial challenges have to be set up very close to the puppy so he can find them. Barrier challenges are excellent low-level problem-solving activities for puppies at this age. Set the food behind the exercise pen just a few inches from the outside edge. Remember, they can't see well at this age, so show the puppy the food, place him just behind the pen, and let him figure the rest out. [MUSIC PLAYING] Good boy. [DOG WHINING] Looking at the first few puppies, you might think this isn't much of a challenge, but it's appropriate for their age and not as easy for some of the puppies. Here's Betty Pork and Beans, again, having trouble with the exercise [MUSIC PLAYING] [DOG WHINING] There you go. [MUSIC PLAYING] Good girl. Nice. As the puppies master the barrier challenge, you should increase the challenge by placing the puppy further away from the food. Having another puppy already eating also increases the challenge by raising the arousal level of the puppy. This is a great way to present mildly, frustrating scenarios to the puppy and give him the tools to cope with those situations by using his problem-solving skills. There's a theory that frustration triggers most aggressive behavior, and neurological studies have shown that aggression and frustration arise from the same centers in the brain. There's good reason to believe that teaching puppies to cope with frustration now will reduce the chance that they'll become aggressive later in life. Aggression interestingly really comes down to frustration. It comes down to competition for resources, frustration for not being able to get to the resources, frustration at being thwarted in whatever you want. And that applies to people as well as dogs. So an animal or a person that is unable to deal with frustration is, in fact, more likely to be aggressive, and this has been proven in neurological research in animals and in people. So it stands to reason if we teach our puppies to deal with frustration throughout their small puppyhood, throughout their critical periods when we can make a big impression on them, it can reduce aggression later in life.

Video Details

Duration: 11 minutes and 31 seconds
Language: English
License: Dotsub - Standard License
Genre: None
Views: 10
Posted by: norabean on Apr 2, 2018


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