Friday, March 1, 2013

Tummy Time!

Puppy raisers put an awful lot of hours under their belt, working with their pups on a myriad of obedience lessons and exposures. But just as important are those quiet moments at the end of a hectic day. Those moments where pup and raiser can really bond and trust is strengthened...a time when pup and raiser can relax close together, gaze into each other's eyes and soak up the peace. One terrific way of doing this is Tummy Time.

The designation "Tummy Time" was given by my young adult son, Sam. He also happens to be it's biggest advocate. When Sam comes to our house, after exchanging the usual hellos and other niceties, it's not long before he's sitting on the kitchen floor with his legs straight out. He calls  our service pup over, has him lay down between his legs, then rolls him onto his back.
Young Dorian at 6 months.

Initially the young pups are not real keen on exposing their vulnerable underbellies to the entire world, so we start off with short, easy doses. But it doesn't take long before they are enjoying the warmth, security and sociability of Tummy Time. Many of the pups will fall asleep in this position for minutes at a time. Added benefits include giving you a good vantage point for checking and massaging paws and inspecting their neck and belly - areas not easily reached. It also teaches an excited puppy to relax!

Nene, a chocolate, who was puppy camping with us.
Sometimes Sam does Tummy Time variations, such as holding the puppy in his arms across his lap. This gets to be a challenge after the puppy goes through his growth spurt, becomes gangly and approaches weights of 40-60 lbs plus! But again, this exercise has the added value of a lesson in trust and closeness.

If you haven't tried Tummy Time, you and your pup may be missing out. Again, be sure to start out easy with your pup just downing between your legs. Gradually ask her to relax and roll onto her side, then graduate to her laying entirely on her back. Take your time so Pup enjoys it. Start with short sessions and slowly increase the duration. Before long your puppy will be looking forward to Tummy Time. After a busy day with your service dog in training, you will be too!


Emmy, puppy in training at 5 months of age. Now a working guide dog, her partner calls her "Princess Emmy."


The very same Emmy just 3.5 months later. Wow, what happened? She may be overflowing Sam's lap, but still loves to be held like a puppy.

A summer day on the deck in Alaska. Dorian appears to have fallen asleep.

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