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Headstart Program


The most critical learning period of a dog’s life is the first

six months. During this period a puppy is the most open

to learning. This is when he learns the fastest, when he

most readily masters new tasks and when he adapts most

readily to new environments. Our puppy headstart

program is designed and structured to maximize the

opportunity provided by this age period. We give puppies

a thorough behavior and exposure base to fully prepare

them to advance rapidly in any one of three careers.

These career paths are gundog, Urban Search and Rescue

dog, or explosive detection dog. All of our headstart

puppies go through the same program, and all are equally

well prepared for any of the three career paths.


Our puppy headstart program focuses on 4 basic facets of

the learning process:


  • Development of the learning process — Puppies learn and are

thoroughly programmed to offer behaviors in order to "buy"

rewards, such as treats or play, or retrieving.


  • Development of self-control — Puppies learn to inhibit and

control reactive responses, and to sit quietly in scenarios of

great temptation.


  • Programming of the core behavioral skills required

of the 3 career paths. — Puppies are programmed on

         (1) Calmness and steadiness in a high distraction


         (2) Retrieving and delivery to hand

         (3) Sniff and sit

         (4) Hunting on rubble piles

         (5) Whistle stops and directional casts


  • Development of desensitization and adaptation skills

  • when faced with new and strange environments — puppies learn to experience a number of new and strange environments in order to build their adaptation and coping skills in the face of new and strange scenarios. We give puppies a great deal of exposure and desensitization in the following areas:

        (1) Gunfire

        (2) Cannon fire

        (3) Combat noises

        (4) Heavy equipment noise and vibration

        (5) Emergency vehicles

        (6) Multiple obstacles and terrains

        (7) Unsteady footing on a variety of surfaces and heights

        (8) boats

        (9) Dark confined spaces

        (10) Groups and crowds of people

        (11) Urban areas

        (12) Vehicle traffic


The headstart program begins at the age of 6 weeks and continues until the age of 12 weeks. The cost is included in the price of the puppy.

Duckhill Kennel's Puppy Headstart Program in action:

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