The Puppy Master

I’ve been unemployed for several months. But fortunately, Onchu has a job. He is a puppy master.

Just like his predecessors Clipper and Tag, Onchu  has excellent canine skills. Witnessing his interaction with other dogs is like watching a live action Turid Rugas* tutorial. When an impetuous young dog gets too pushy, Onchu turns his head slightly away. If the other dog doesn’t get the message, the next head turn is more pronounced. When necessary the head turns progress to growls.

Onchu’s responses are also adjusted according to the age and size of the puppy. Onchu would still stand patiently while my neighbor’s JRT mixes, at 11 months old, climbed on him and hung onto his long fur. Another neighbor’s mastiff puppy doesn’t get off as easy. At eight months old the mastiff is bigger and heavier than Onchu, so Onchu’s discipline to him is quicker and fiercer.

We regularly get phone calls or emails from a puppy kindergarten instructor asking if Onchu can come to puppy class to model good doggy manners. Many puppy classes incorporate a few minutes of off-leash play time. As the weeks of class progress, of course the puppies are growing older and testing the boundaries. When a puppy begins displaying pushy behavior, Onchu is there to show them how to play nice.

In addition to Onchu’s great natural temperament, we were lucky to have a good network of sociable dogs when Onchu himself was a puppy. Opportunities to play nice with others is one of the best skills you can provide for your dog.   

*Turid Rugas is the Norwegian dog trainer who documented and wrote the book on “Calming Signals in Dogs” 15 years ago.