Puppy Peaks is an online subscription program which gives you an unique and interesting peek into one very smart trainer using all her skill to outsmart her Border Collie 🙂
I don’t know about you, but I love watching great dog trainers train their dogs, especially puppies so I can see the very beginnings of what will one day become a competition-quality behavior. This is what Puppy Peaks is all about – boatloads of videos of Susan training her youngest dog Swagger from 3 weeks (he was bred by Susan) until 13 months. Of course at 3 weeks old you won’t see any flashy behaviors, just a puppy learning about his environment and playing with his human.
The video clips span many topics, like:
- resource guarding
- happily switching between toys and food
- stay behaviors
- beginnings of shaping
- body awareness and balance exercises
- learning to like showers and nail trimming
- agility jumping from the very beginnings
- recalls out of play
- walking on loose lead
- not herding Susan 😉
- working in distracting environments
- learning directionals for agility
- flexibility and strength
- learning verbals for different ways to take a jump (wrap, backside, rear cross)
And this is just from the top of my head. Clips contain short notes explaining what is going on and what is Susan’s rationale and you can also see problem-solving for many of these. Susan answered some of the questions that we posted under the videos, but not all as the Q&A was not officially part of the program.
The program promised at least three new videos for every week until Swagger’s 1st birthday and a monthly video explaining what will Susan focus on for that month. Often there were more than three videos waiting for me when I eagerly logged on to Puppy Peaks page every week and in the end Susan extended the program by a month so we were able to see Swagger’s 13th month as well. This was a real treat and my only wish was that she would continue with the program so we could see how she was preparing him for his agility debut. But the initial promise was that we will see Swagger turn one year old and she already over-delivered on that one. Now she says she will roll out additional months (I think until Swagger’s 18th month). Exciting!
Though Puppy Peaks is not a training program, it makes sense to work alongside it and try Susan’s ideas on your dogs. There are some things that I chose not to use in my training because my whippets seem to respond differently than Swagger the border collie (who would have thought, huh? 🙂 ). I usually needed to take distractions much slower and keep a higher rate of reinforcement than Susan who maintains that dogs should learn to work though some level of frustration. I can see how that could help the dog to learn quickly in the future, but I either don’t have a knack for it or the difference between temperaments of our dogs is just too big. But after some tweaking to adjust for my dogs the underlying principles were very useful.
What I appreciate the most about Susan’s approach to teaching people about dog training is how well she is able to articulate the underlying principles that guide her choices. I am the sort of person who finds WHY something works just as important as knowing HOW to make it work, so Susan’s style of teaching suits me very well. Also, it was very helpful that I took Recallers before Puppy Peaks because I think that most of her “operating system” on which she makes training decisions was already explained there.
If you read this blog regularly you will know that I also take classes with Silvia Trkman. Silvia and Susan are among dog trainers that I have learned the most from. Though they are both positive trainers they approach dog training from a different perspective. I think Silvia views it as an art and Susan sees it as a science. From what I can tell, they are both right 🙂