What happens during a puppy’s third stage of training?
The Puppy Three Star is the stage where we focus on building on what the puppy has already learned in the Puppy Two Star. Think of it like the years of secondary school for us humans, where we are given the opportunity to make decisions for ourselves and build upon the education we’ve already had.
It’s quite similar to the puppy training they experience in their Puppy Two Star. They know what behaviour is expected of them – but we now give them the opportunity to make the correct choices rather than telling them.
Although a lot of the training in the Three Star is building upon what a pup already learned in their training, we try to keep it interesting by making it all a bit more challenging for them. This is also the stage we really start introducing soundwork that will allow the dog to transform a deaf person’s life. Find out how we do this below.
How we build on what a hearing dog puppy already knows
Can you imagine how boring school would have been if every year you were taught the same information over and over again? Our hearing dog puppies would feel exactly the same – and you can really tell that they love learning new and challenging techniques and skills (especially if there’s a treat involved).
Here’s a few ways we build on a pup’s training:
We give them more distractions and temptations
This may sound cruel, but it’s really important a hearing dog understands it can’t get everything it wants. (A skill us humans must learn too!) We test impulse control more and more at this stage by dropping food unexpectedly and letting the hearing dog pup choose whether or not to reach for it, or doing star jumps whilst they’re concentrating on their ‘wait’ – which gets a lot of confused looks and head tilts from our pups. These are skills a puppy can draw back on in later life when they’re faced with a similar situation.
We help to build their resilience
The world can be a very exciting place for a dog. But like many of us, they can be a little unsure of new experiences and strange places. If a puppy is brought somewhere new and they have a bad experience there, it’s very hard to convince them later there’s nothing to fear. This is why we build on their resilience – by taking them to all kinds of places and events in short, happy bursts to show a hearing dog puppy that they’re safe. And prove that being out and about somewhere new can be a lot of fun! They also get to wear their hearing dog puppy jackets for the first time so they get even more fuss and attention from the public – which is always a bonus.
We focus on their strengths – and work on areas they’re not so confident in
Like humans, all dogs are different and have very different skills to their siblings and peers. While one puppy can be very calm but find new situations daunting, another pup will be more boisterous but a lot less cautious of the world. With the right attention and some tailored training, both pups could make amazing hearing dogs.
So in the Puppy Three Star we make sure we focus on helping the dogs through the areas of training they may struggle with a bit more than others, and ensure their skills are built on more and more with every passing week.
All of this careful training by our amazing puppy socialising volunteers helps to create what we deem as the ‘perfect’ hearing dog – and helps our pups to feel comfortable, relaxed and confident which is very important to us.
We also support the puppy socialising volunteers through building up a pup’s soundwork training here. This includes making them aware of sounds and rewarding them when they take interest. All of this training helps create a perfect foundation for our dogs when they come into our training centres to learn the bulk of their sounds.
Passing the Puppy Three Star
Once our trainers assess a puppy’s progress at the end of the Puppy Three Star, these adorable pups will move on to the Puppy Four Star!
This is considered the more advanced area of a hearing dog’s training as we will be introducing lots more exciting techniques. This includes building the soundwork training that will one day help a deaf person live a more independent and confident life.