Four More Ways to Maximize Puppy Development With Your Adventure Box
In my final post in our Adventure Box series, let’s talk about how to ensure your pups get the most out of your Adventure Box. As I said in my last blog post, Adventure Boxes are intended to be challenging for puppies with noisy and unusual items that move, touch, and even smack them sometimes. Some pups are drawn to the challenges but many ignore or avoid them.
What can you do to make sure every puppy benefits from your box through positive associations and regular change?
1. Start with food!
Once you’ve begun to wean your puppies, draw them into the box by putting their meals in the middle of it. Once they have no problem entering the box to eat, put it in a hallway and call your pups through it to their food dishes. By linking their meals to the Adventure Box, you will cause a positive association between the box and food.
In addition, feeding your pups in your Aventure Box will get them accustomed to things touching them, making noise, and moving around them while they eat. This will help inoculate them to future situations in their homes or at events, as well as reduce their reactivity around food once they are older.
2. Call them to their Adventure Box.
Similarly, you can associate the Adventure Box with you by standing inside the box and calling the pups to you. Drop treats on the ground inside the box while praising and petting, to reward them for coming when called. If they are old enough, you can use kibble as treats but you can also use diced, cooked meat or commercial foods like FreshPet’s Vital cat food.
One reminder, ALWAYS reward your puppies with food when you call them to you! One hundred percent of the time!
BECOME AN AVIDOG BREEDER COLLEGE MEMBER TODAY
Join a community of like-minded dog breeders seeking to breed and raise their pups using the best methods available.
3. Novelty rules!
Remember that novelty rules during the Sensitive Period, between three and 16 weeks of age. Your pups will get the most out of their Adventure Box if you change it up regularly. Initially, when the pups are very young, just rotate the box so that the position of the sides varies. If you are lucky enough to have interchangeable sides for your Adventure Box, which I think is a fabulous idea, change the sides every few days. If you don’t move or change it, the puppies will become accustomed to stress, say, in the back right corner of their puppy pen. Instead, we want them to generalize that there are strange sights, sounds, and shapes everywhere but they are okay.
4. Take your Adventure Box on the road.
Take it in and return it to the pen every few days, putting it in a different place each time. Once your pups have time outside their pen, put the box in different rooms of the house and even outdoors. (One warning, your paint cans will rust if they get wet from dew or rain, so bring it in each night.) .
Change the location, position, and items on your Adventure Box regularly and your puppies will become accustomed to stressors happening everywhere in their world. Soon, they will take them for granted! Not only is this fun, it builds confidence.
I hope you found this series of best practices for puppy Adventure Boxes helpful. I’d love to see photos or videos of your box! As you make and/or use your boxes, make sure that you focus on safety and puppy development. If you would like more information about the adventure box, go to the adventure box page on the website.
Want to know more about raising healthy, stable puppies?
Check out our 8-month, self-paced online course to raising a healthy, stable litter of pups, from before breeding until sending your pups home.