Armed with ideas and information from clicker trainer, Corally Burmaster, who instituted the idea of the Puppy Head Start Program, and from fellow AKC Canine Ambassador, Joyce Miller, who gave me the heads up! on this fun and useful program, I have built a puppy playground that has become an integral part of my puppy socialization program.
Pups in photo are visiting the puppy playground for the first time. 6-month-old "Special" is supervising. The pups absolutely love getting in the play yard and exploring. They climb through tubes, use cat walks, go down slides, play on a teeter board, learn to climb stairs - all activities that help to build coordination, confidence, and healthy minds. They are exposed to different surfaces - smooth, rough, cement, wood, plastic, metal. They are exposed to different heights with the cat walk heights varied on a regular basis. The skills they learn give them confidence in their bodies
Playtime for Puppies
and their ability to cope with new surroundings. They also learn problem solving, as the equipment is changed around daily in order to keep the puppies challenged, or to introduce items that are more age appropriate. Their stimulation is ongoing.
True Story: After the first Puppy Preschool had been completed, I allowed all the pups to enter. This photo is of the very first visit of my first litter to experience this setting. At first, they were all "wowed" and followed each other around, stuck to each other, as they sniffed, climbed, and investigated. However, within about 5 minutes, they were all swingin' from the chandeliers, bouncing, jumping, climbing, sliding - the works!
The next morning, I let all the pups outside on my patio to eat their breakfast. Without exception, they flew past their food and into the Preschool Playground to romp! Later in the afternoon, while they were down for naps, I went into the Playground to clean up, and rearrange equipment - this is done about every 30-45 minutes throughout the day when they are in the playground to keep stimulation high. I had closed the gate into the playground while I worked. As the pups woke from their naps, they wandered out on the patio and lined up in front of the gate that led into the playground like kids waiting for the amusement park to open! It was a riot! Since then, every pup in every litter has had the same response. They LOVE it!