So why are we so keen for you to get your puppies into Mantrailing?
Because it is the perfect activity which tires them out, helps them develop confidence in new situations and with new people and most of all helps build a bond between you both. Many training situations focus on the puppy only being commanded or forced to focus potentially creating conflict or frustration, whereas Mantrailing allows the puppy to explore and work at their pace alongside you, rather than in conflict with you. This opportunity to explore and approach new things means they build their confidence at their pace and ultimately make the right choices towards things, which they could have found scary.
Puppies can start Mantrailing at any age, however we would probably wait about a week until your puppy has settled in the new home. All puppies are born with the ability to scent as it is one of the first senses to develop, when they are born along with heat detection. They can sniff out their mothers’ milk to get to feed. They are genetically driven to do so to survive. This sense develops more as they grow, and they increase their skills in discrimination on people, dogs and the environment. They learn who the people are that feed them, often by smell associated with food, as well as affection from that person.
You can start your puppy with trailing games. Lots of owners actually do this by accident by walking away from their puppy whose little legs can’t keep up, or playing hide and seek with them. Also fun games such as hiding bits of food about the house or toys set your puppy up to use its nose more effectively.
To join in on an introduction course with a Mantrailing UK instructor, you can find more information here www.mantrailingUK.com/find-an-instructor
You can join after their second vaccinations. This is purely from a health and safety point of view for your puppy. There are going to be other dogs in the introduction, who may be carriers for things, as well as likely to be trailing in a place where lots of dogs frequent. Some instructors even do puppy only introductions to help you start your Mantrailing journey.
Mantrailing also really helps to bond with your puppy and become a team in a very natural way.
We adapt the ritual and trailing to suit the attention span and exercise needs of young puppies. Doing big, long trails with lots of distractions aren’t going to make the puppy excited for the game, instead we introduce them to hunting trails. Hunting trails are short, sharp and super exciting trails where the puppy gets lots of quick rewards off the trail layer in succession. This creates lots of reward and intensity for the game, and leaves the puppies wanting more without over whelming them.
We can then quickly move on to the normal intensity starts once the puppy gets the idea that the person running off is worth following, and actually is rewarding. The starting ritual can be off putting for some puppies so we do it nice and steady, and make it fun. As always we never get frustrated if the puppy is wiggling about and unsure of a harness, its all about making the whole process a fun event. There is also adaptation to the ritual where needed, but we want to start the puppies on the right foot understanding the game. Remember the foundations of any training need to be good, poor foundations lead to trouble later on (Check out our other blog on the foundations in mantrailing -https://www.mantrailinguk.com/post/laying-foundations-but-why ).
Making sure you set the pace is important when starting any dog out trailing, but it’s especially important for puppies as they are only going to get faster as they grow. If you start running behind them now they will be dragging you off your feet by the time they hit 6 months old. The temptation to run while trailing is strong, but consider the impact on their joints and long term learning.
Getting puppies used to wearing a harness in general, dragging a line and eating from pots can help them overcome any worries about new things. It also gives you a way to find the right reward for your puppy, through some choice tests. Setting up pots with different foods in such as wet dog food, pate, roast chicken, cream cheese or anything else you think the puppy would love. Allowing them preference for their reward means you find the special reward just for mantrailing, once you have found a clear choice keep that just for mantrailing, rather than using it as an everyday reward for them. This makes the game extra special.
The party at the end also needs to be positive for the puppy. Lots of trail layers can get overly handsy with puppies as all they want to do is touch them, so it is important that the instructor and owner make it clear what the puppy likes best in a party. They get lots of excitement from us and this helps impact how amazing the game is for the puppy, as well as building a bond with the puppy playing a game together. Touch by strangers is not always what a puppy will want and as trail layers we need to be aware of that.
Want to get started with your puppy? Then find your nearest on our map here - https://www.mantrailinguk.com/find-an-instructor