Once our Fine and Dandy Aussiedoodle puppies are over three weeks old, they begin therapy sessions. While thoughts of a puppy laying on a couch and learning to talk about their feelings and handle stress is a cute image, these therapy sessions are different than the stereotypical therapy sessions us humans have. However, they are still very important. The gentle exercises we do with the pups help them to be stable, well-rounded, calm dogs when being groomed, examined by the veterinarian, or perhaps when the grandkids come to visit.
First, we hold them and get them used to being hugged and held close. Then, we touch their paws and go through each of their toes. Many dogs will pull their feet away from anyone trying to wipe their paws or clip their nails. By starting young and manipulating their paws, the pups are much more likely able to be properly groomed and cared for without undue stress on them or their parents.
Next, we’ll cradle them on their backs until they relax, usually just three seconds to a minute depending on how they’re tolerating it and how long they’ve been practicing. Laying on their backs is a submissive position and having them comfortable here, makes it easier for pet parents to establish themselves as pack leaders.
Another therapy we’ll introduce them to is covering their eyes and rubbing their ears. Again, this makes it far less stressful for the dog and for you or the vet when grooming or examining. Also, if you have a dog that is used to their ears being rubbed or their eyes covered, if a child tugs on their ears or covers their eyes in some way, the dog will be a lot less likely to react in an aggressive or scared way.
We’ll also put our hand in their mouth and feel for teeth. This prepares them for having their teeth brushed and their mouths touched in any number of situations. Say they found a chicken bone while on a walk. You’d need to be able to take it out of their mouth as chicken bones are dangerous for dogs to eat.
To help with inner ear balance and equilibrium, we’ll hold them out in front of us and slowly, gently move them in a figure-eight or wave type of pattern, to simulate riding in a car. This is only done for about ten to fifteen seconds at a time.
The pups are also introduced to sleeping without mom through the night, introduced to a crate, and introduced to a doggie door prior to eight weeks of age. Not to mention we expose them to our other dogs and all types of play. All of these practices are geared toward developing happy, well-socialized dogs who will be incredible life-long companions. We love all of our dogs and puppies and want to prep them for success!