Dior’s Training Timeline

Castiron Cleo’s Denali aka Dior was whelped on 22Dec22 and was the first female picked from our D-Litter (Manny/Cleo).  Dior will eventually join Eric Chivot’s breeding program in France.  Eric is the breeder who agreed to place Manny with us ~7 years ago.  Everything comes full circle…eventually.  Import regulations mandate Dior wait a minimum of 3 weeks after her first rabies vaccination before heading to France, so she will be with us for ~2 months after her litter mates have all gone to their forever homes.  As such we will train her as if she was our own until she departs.  Stay tuned for weekly updates on Dior’s progress.

A recap Dior’s first 7 weeks of exposure which are the foundation for her training:
Days 4 – 16 US Army Superdog Protocol with bonus pheasant wing exposure
Weeks 3 – 7 Noise Conditioning while feeding
Weeks 3 – 7 Potty Training on newspaper
Weeks 4 – 7 People Socialization
Weeks 5 – 7 “Come” Command (Verbal and/or Whistle) with and without treats
Weeks 5 – 7 Pheasant/Quail Exposure
Week 7 Crate Conditioning
Week 7 Outdoor Playtime
Week 7 Adult Dog Socialization


The weather was finally cooperative so Dior and her littermates all went outside yesterday for the first time. The yard was a mix of grass and snow and the pups all had a great time. Worked on recall and the pups all listened!

Week 8

There are zero formal training sessions planned for this week. Littermates are beginning to head home, starting with the alpha female puppy, so we will see if there are any behavioral changes as the new pack order is established. We will continue to work on the following with Dior.
-Adult Dog Socialization
-Crate Conditioning
-Noise Conditioning
-Recall to Verbal Command and Whistle
-Potty Training

Depending on how the week goes we may attempt to introduce/include the following.
-Quail Exposure
-Leash Drag
-Sit to Verbal Command and Hand Signal
-Vacuum Cleaner


The weather took a turn for the better and we were able to get all the pups outside again.  We took them out in pairs with the exception of Dior, who ventured out alone so we could start with leash conditioning.  Letting a pup drag a leash around for a couple days usually gets them used to it enough that they don’t bite at and fight the leash.  Dior did great today.  Only picked up the leash to take herself for a walk once! We snuck in a little whistle work as well.

Week 8 Recap

Well, we managed to work with Dior on most of what we hoped to this past week and it all went well. Dior weighed in at 13 pounds and she is proving to be a very confident puppy. The only uncertainty was during water intro/play time in the bathtub. No accidents in the house yet, but we’ve been pretty diligent about getting her outside or back in the puppy playground every time she appears to need to go. We’ve also continued to trim toenails weekly in order to make that process less challenging as she ages. Objectives accomplished:
-Adult Dog Socialization (Cleo, Remi and Whiskey all one at a time)
-Crate Conditioning
-Noise Conditioning
-Recall to Verbal Command and Whistle
-Potty Training
-Stairs (up only)
-Leash Drag

Week 9

Dior’s littermates have been departing for their forever homes all week and she’ll be the last pup standing in a few days. In addition to the prior training/conditioning objectives our plan is to work with Dior on:

-Adult Dog Socialization (multiple dogs simultaneously)
-“Come” command with and without Orientation at the Right Side
-Sit to Verbal Command and Hand Signal
-Vacuum Cleaner
-Short Leashed Walks
-Solo Crate Conditioning


Dior went for a short leashed walk today and did very well. A few initial moments of biting the leash and then she settled into an exploratory walk without regard for the leash. She also had a short socialization session with Remi and Whiskey and that was without incident. In a few more days Dior will move upstairs with the rest of our dogs.


Well, Dior is now the solo pup at our house. Her sister DiDi aka Chloe left yesterday. Dior did pretty well last night in the crate by herself. She needed to get up once at 2:30am to go out, but other than that she slept great…which meant we slept pretty good. It’s the little things. Priorities for the next few days are potty training and continued socialization with the rest of our Picardy pack.

Week 10

Like most Picardy’s Dior is very food motivated.  So much so that it’s been a little difficult to get her to stay sitting or to stay in her crate on command…she wants the treat/reward so badly.  So we’re going to turn her into a gambler earlier than normal for a puppy.  She’ll only get a treat/reward ~75% of the time.  The rest of the time praise and petting will need to suffice.  Dior is doing very well walking on a leash and we’ve transitioned her to a 20’ check cord.  It’s very rare now that she bites at or pulls on the leash.  Potty training is going well and we’ve not had any accidents in the house…whew!  Adult dog socialization is the only area we’re having any significant challenge and that’s not Dior’s fault.  Whiskey is ramping and will likely be in heat in the next couple of weeks so she’d prefer all of our attention.  She’s not very nice to Dior when she wants more attention from us so we need to be very watchful. 

Week 11

This is the first full week where we only have 1 puppy in our care which is good because Dior is at an age where she needs more attention.  As this is still a very formidable learning period for puppies we want to take advantage of that as much as possible.  We continue to socialize Dior with other people, but not with dogs other than those in our pack.  This is a precaution we take with young puppies as their GI tract is still very immature and they’ve only had their first round of vaccinations…which doesn’t cover Bordetella.  We don’t want her to get sick for any reason.  Dior’s main job now is to sleep, to grow and to learn how to learn.  We continue to provide Dior with varying experiences, which this week included a 100-mile truck ride.  Like most Picardy’s Dior is a very easy-going traveler, but she’s a “puker.”  She doesn’t make much noise, but she continues to experience motion sickness, even with the crate turned forward so she can see out and see us.  Hopefully Dior will grow out of this sooner than later.  We’ll continue intermittent car rides of short durations in the coming weeks.

Dior is pretty easy going in general.  Except when she’s outside.  Dior’s figured out that there are birds at the bird feeders and she’s been pointing them in a beautiful classic style.  Unfortunately she’s also decided that bird seed tastes pretty good.  So we need to manage her outdoor investigations via a 20’ check cord.  We’ve introduced her to the vacuum cleaner using the “kibble on the floor” technique and that went well.  As far as commands go she’s got “Sit” and “Come” down pretty well to both voice command and hand signal.  The video speaks to how well her recall is to the whistle. “Kennel” is still a little iffy…she knows she’ll get a treat, but she’s not always inclined to kennel.  It’s a process.  We’ve started with the “Down” command and “No,” “Leave It,” and “Over Here” have crept into our vocabulary with her.  Not by plan, but just because that’s what we’re used to saying in certain situations.  

Noise conditioning continues intermittently during feeding and in a few weeks we will introduce Dior to “gunfire” using a starter pistol.  Retrieving hasn’t been going particularly well to date.  We’ve already transitioned from using a toy to a puppy bumper with quail wings taped on to it with marginal success.  Dior will carry toys around, but has no real interest in coming to show them off to us as a prize.  The bumper with wings, on the other hand, is quite a prize to her but she’s not always so keen on retrieving it.  Another “it’s a process” situation.  Dior had a brief experience on a tie out stake, and she handled it much better than anticipated.  She also spent a little time in our outdoor kennel…a few short solo stints and then a longer session with Cleo in the same kennel.

Dior is also one helluva a napper, and I’m quite happy to give her some company after lunch most days.  Not sure who is spoiling whom. 

Week 12

This week was a bit hectic in that both Remi and Whiskey were in season and we had Argos aka Roscoe at the house for a breeding with Whiskey.  As Dior didn’t receive her second round of vaccinations…which includes Bordetella…and we didn’t want Remi bred, we spent most of the week just managing dogs such that Dior didn’t come in contact with Argos, and Argos didn’t come into contact with Remi.  It was basically a 2-floor, 2-person, 5-dog fiasco, but despite all of this we did manage to get some training done with Dior. 

First, and foremost, Dior is finally sleeping through the night.  This milestone wasn’t reached until late in the week, but we finally made it.  Some other good news is that water conditioning via the bathtub is about done due to Dior’s size, but that’s OK as she tolerates the water well and she is perfectly willing to completely submerge her head for a treat.  Mission accomplished.  We managed to get Dior conditioned to a hunting bell as well.  As always the first time a puppy is “belled” it’s quite interesting.  Dior bucked and pranced around like a pony at first, but eventually she settled down.  Ellen and I facilitated that by standing about 30 yards apart and calling “Come” to her.  She did great running from one of us to another and the excitement of a reward at the end of each little sprint was enough to negate the noise of the bell.  Dior is doing much better at Sit/Stay.  We make her Sit at the door as we get ready to take her outside and she waits patiently until her leash is attached.  This has helped with daytime potty training as Dior will now go to the door and bark when she needs to go out.  We also make her Sit after we put her food down.  She does a really good job waiting for the “Ok” release command now.  Fetch is still a little questionable, but she’s doing better now that we have a “toy” that she’s quite attached to.  It’s a glove she found on a walk and for some reason she loves it.  We only let her play with it when we work on “Fetch.”  Dior had a couple rides in the truck this week, once to the vet to get shots and once into town for a “town walk.”  She made it into town without throwing up in her crate, but not to the vet.  We will continue short truck rides with her to help her get over her motion sickness.  The walk through town went very well…lots of new smells and noises.  Dior doesn’t care for the noise of passing cars and trucks too much, and we’re just fine with that.  Better she respect and stay away from them than to bark and/or give chase.  On warm days she does a couple short stints in the outdoor kennel with Cleo followed by some playtime in the yard with the rest of our pack.  A tired puppy is a good puppy…


Dior pointing a robin in a bush about 40 yards away.

Week 13

Back to some sense of normalcy this week.  Dior is growing like a weed and is ~20 pounds now.  She’s maturing a bit as well.  We’ve been putting her in her crate during our mealtimes…as we do with all of our dogs…and she’s finally settled into that routine without any fuss, whining nor barking.  We’ve continued to take Dior on short drives to different places for a walk to help her overcome her motion sickness.  It seems to be working, but time will tell.  Weather permitting…we have somewhere between 0 – 17” of snow predicted for Friday night…Dior will have a play date with Dutch on Saturday.  The tentative plan is to let them get reacquainted in the backyard and then to take them to a game farm for an off-leash romp.  No birds, just a lot of scent and plenty of room to run around.  It will be interesting to compare and contrast the 2 pups in terms of independence, birdiness…so many songbirds have already returned to Wisconsin…prey drive, recall, nose work, etc.  Looking forward to watching them continue to learn and to learn how to learn.  Also looking forward to seeing them both point.  Dior is very staunch for a puppy, so it will be interesting to see Dutch in action.

Dior is improving her communication skills as she regularly goes to the door, sits and gives a little bark when she needs to go out to pee/poop.  She’s even started to do it in the outdoor kennel.  We’ve been alternating putting her in the outdoor kennel with Cleo and then alone…with Cleo or Remi in the adjoining kennel…and she’s doing pretty well with that.  We haven’t had her out on a tie out stake for a couple of weeks now, so that’s on the agenda for this next week.  Dior’s recall continues to be excellent…as is that of her littermates…and our puppy families  attribute that to the whistle and “Come” command conditioning we did with the pups when they were 5+ weeks old.  Dior is also doing quite well now at Sit/Stay, whether it be while we leash her up at the front door or when we make her wait for her food.  She’s doing much better at “Down,” but her attention span is such that we really need to watch her closely so that we release her at the first sign of restlessness.  We want to ingrain in her that she must do what we ask her to do until we release her.  It’s an evolution, and one that requires attentiveness and patience.

Pack behavior/order/discipline has also been a bit of an evolution over the past week.  Remi loves to play with Dior and the 2 of them cuddle up for naps in a dog bed quite regularly.  Cleo continues to play/teach Dior, but boy her play can be rough at times…we regularly supervise outdoor play sessions as Cleo has a tendency to grab Dior’s collar.  Inside Cleo is one hell of a babysitter…she will miss Dior when she leaves for France 2 weeks from today.  And then there’s Whiskey, our hormonal youngster.  She can’t decide whether Dior is a friend or foe at this point.  Likely a combination of jealousy and post-heat hormones.  Dior is getting some “tough love” from us as well in the form of “No!” and “Leave it!” commands.  She is learning and at this age that’s all we can ask for.  Building a good, solid foundation…

Week 14

Well, we are only 1 week away from Dior departing for France.  06Apr23 will be a bittersweet day, but Dior going to France completes the circle.  She will be going to Eric Chivot, the breeder who 7 years ago entrusted Manny to us. Now one of Manny’s puppies will be entrusted to him as a companion and hunting partner…hopefully she will bring him as much joy as Manny had brought us.  We are also hopeful that Dior will have puppies someday and that one of those puppies will join us back here at Castiron Kennels.  Not sure who will miss Dior more, El, Cleo or me…she and Cleo have so much fun playing and just hanging out that her departure will likely put Cleo into a bit of a funk.

This week we started getting Dior, who is now almost 25 pounds, ready for her big adventure.  We took her for several walks in town where truck traffic is heavy to help condition her to that kind of steady state noise.  She does really well dealing with the noise perspective, but she’s still not sure what to think about the trucks…she watches them like they are prey, but she seems to respect their size and doesn’t try to give chase.  We’ve taken Dior on a few rides in the truck as well with mixed results.  Short trips are fine…longer trips result in a pukey puppy.  We will likely cut back on her food the day she travels to try to avoid a mess in her crate during the flight.  Dior is consistently making it through the night now, but she does require a potty break pretty early each morning.  We transitioned Dior to the crate she will travel to France in so that she gets comfortable with it.  We are having her spend longer periods of time crated during the day as well in hopes that she will be as ready as possible for her big adventure.  This week was the first week we added a bit of negative training as Dior started to eat her poop right after going.  She got 4 swats on her butt on 4 different occasions for trying to do that and since then she hasn’t tried to do it again.  Hoping that is the end of that nasty behavior.

Dior’s Week 14 Report Card

            Sit at the door waiting to be leashed while we get our coats on

            Sit at the door to have leash taken off and paws wiped

            Sit and wait at mealtime…she waits over a minute before being released

            Sit to voice command and hand signal

            “Down” (laydown) to voice command and hand signal

            Noise conditioned including first gun intro

            Pointing birds regularly

            Strong prey drive

            “Off” command…when she jumps up on us…accompanied with a knee bump

            “Leave It” command…she still tries to eat everything

            “Easy” command while walking on leash

            Off-leash runs

            Recall to Come and Whistle…still working on hand signal compliance

            Water conditioned to fully submerge her head

            Crate trained (inside) to “Kennel” command

            Kennel conditioned (outside) and introduced to “Kennel” command outside

            Initiated “Heel” while walking with a treat held at our knee

            Tie-out Stake conditioned

            Walking in town with traffic noise

            Over Here to voice and hand signal

            Potty Trained…will sit at the door (and sometimes bark) when she needs to go out


Dior will wait patiently over a minute before being released for meals. Reinforces who is in charge regularly, as well as teaches self-control.


Week 15

Dior weighed in at 27 pounds at her final vet visit.  The weather this week wasn’t great, but there was enough of a window that Dior and Wisconsin Dutch were able to get together for a play date.  They had a great time and both slept quite well afterwards.  We spent a good bit of time just hanging out with Dior this week.  The only new thing we introduced was waiting patiently in the kennel until we released her.  She picked it up pretty quickly as you can see by the video above.

Dior went on several car/truck rides this week and also spent a few longer periods in her kennel alone to help her get ready for her bid adventure.  I also got in a couple of naps with her, and we just enjoyed our last bit of time with her. 

Now that Dior is in France the circle is complete.  Almost 6 years ago Eric entrusted Manny to me.  Now we are entrusting Manny’s daughter to him.  Dogs bring about amazing friendships.  We hope to see Dior again at the end of the month when we attend the 2023 Picardy Spaniel Breed Club show in Amiens, France.

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