Canine Circus School provides learning opportunities for dogs of all ages. Training is a life long pursuit, we plant the seeds of an ecosystem of behaviors that will work together to cultivate a better dog. During every class we create a pleasing balance between repetitions and variations. Our drills get people and dogs focused and that benefits both the high energy dogs and dogs that are here to work through something.
Dog wisdom, garden wisdom.
There is an old saying about the growth of gardens. It came to mind as I was hacking away at our over grown Cecil Bruner rose.
“The first year the garden sleeps, the second year the garden creeps, the third year the garden leaps.” – author unknown
This saying reminds us to be patient when planting a garden (of perennials). That it takes three years to become the robust garden you imagine. The first year the plants build roots, the second year structure, and the third year the garden fills out and takes off because it’s well adapted.
It struck me that this saying can describe the phases of raising a dog to maturity. You just need to change the words a bit. “the first year your pup leaps, the second year your dog creeps, and the third year the dog sleeps.
Leaps, Creeps, Sleeps. Let me explain:
Leaps: In the pups first year he grows fast. Compared to humans, dogs grow and learn quickly. At age 15 we are barely able to take care of ourselves, most dogs have lived a full life. The stuff I thought I knew when I was twenty, I laugh at in my forties. From weening to about one year, pups have a kind of “diplomatic immunity” they can be jerks to older dogs without the risk of getting their asses kicked. Most older dogs seem to know a puppy when they see one and tell them off firmly but gently. This all changes as the dog gets past one year of age. The diplomatic immunity wears off and serious fights can quickly develop.
Creeps: Year 2 your dog will have reached his full height but not his full width. Physical growth slows down, but mature behavior is coming fast. Your dog has gotten past her first heat cycle and males have gone from humping your leg to lifting theirs. That’s what I like about the word “creeps” it can apply to both to slowing down and creepyness. At this point your dog needs adult training not just puppy kindergarten, because fights can develop and prey behavior may become serious.
Sleeps: The third year I call the thickening. Remember that sweet boyish/girlish face you used to have, now you look in the mirror and find a sea mammal starring back. That’s because you went through the thickening at 38. Your dog will thicken at 3 to 4 years old, but it will make him look strong and cool like batman, not like a walrus, which is one of the advantages of being a dog. During this time, trained behaviors become most consistent because background chatter is less of an influence. Another thing you might notice is that your dog will begin to be more conservative with his energy levels, sleeping more and expecting less. This sleeping phase is what most people are waiting for. Have patience it will come, just remember the saying: Leaps, Creeps, Sleeps
Thanks for sticking around to read my ramblings, I hope it gave you some insights on rearing dogs through the first three years. – Francis.