Susan Garrett’s Puppy Peaks Review

Puppy Java

Puppy Java

Susan Garrett will be reopening Puppy Peaks soon! But what is this Puppy Peaks thing anyway?

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
  • retrieving
  • 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 🙂

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7 thoughts on “Susan Garrett’s Puppy Peaks Review

  1. I didn’t know you did puppy peaks – now I can pick your brain about that, too 😉
    Do you think it would be worthwhile for Lu and I given I think she could go faster and be more motivated- would there be enough ‘stuff’ in there to make it worthwhile? (Hopefully that makes sense)
    Also is it compatible to Silvia’s way of doing things? (Here there seems to be a big divide of Silvia vs. Garrett/Derrett but possibly that’s just in terms of handling. )
    I really like how you wrote up about it particularly that she provides rationale for what she does I suppose I just worry that Lu is used to things one way and I’d want to make sure I’d get enough value out of it if I signed up 🙂

    • Yes, there is a difference between Silvia Trkman and Susan Garrett/Greg Derrett way. I think it’s mainly on three accounts: handling (but Susan is currently transitioning from Derrett handling to a less restrictive handling system), how they approach jump training and use of reinforcers. Susan and Greg are big on using tug toys for everything, while Silvia says use whatever works for your dog (and according to what you’re training).

      Having read your last post I think you will do just fine experimenting playing with Lu like that. If you would take Recallers that would be one of the games that Susan would have you play, and for ideas like that Recallers would be better than Puppy Peaks (Swagger was not at all difficult to motivate).

      Neither Susan nor Silvia could give me the secret formula to motivating my dogs. I do it exactly the way you do – I watch what the dog likes and try to mimic it in the way we play, then I mix that with Susan’s games. Susan is great at balancing self-control with motivation, but since Swagger is so motivated, you will see mostly the self-control part of the equation.

      So no, I wouldn’t sign up for Puppy Peaks as Lu’s motivational program (unless you sign up to see the exercises, that’s fine 🙂 ). Instead I recommend taking Recallers when it will be offered again. In my experience it builds speed as well as recall.

      • Thanks for your advice! I’m definitely planning on taking Recallers if/when she offers it next, especially for Lu’s recall. 🙂
        And yes, if Swagger needed much more self control work, that’s not going to be useful for us- Lu has plenty of that, she needs more wild/crazy. 😉

        Well, my husband will be happy that we don’t have to pay for another online course, hahaha!

  2. I did the Puppy Peaks and enjoyed watching the videos!

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