Puppy social guide

PUPPIES AGE (WEEKS)

SOCIALISATION TASK

BENEFITS

8

 

Begin your puppy’s new life with your family by introducing him to the immediate & extended family. Learning him about his home environment, where he is sleeping / quite time to get away from the kids (crate). Make sure that your crate is put in a comfortable spot; a happy medium is the best, not too quite a place but equally not too busy a place.

Getting him used to all the family members especially the children will familiarise him with all of you. Giving him his own space increases his security, creates a routine and decreases the chances of separation issues in the future.

8- Completion of vaccinations.

 

Although your puppy is not yet immunised you must begin to get him used to the sights and sounds of the outside world in which he lives. Wrap him in a blanket or a papoose and take him to the park(never let him down), a walk along the street and on a school run allowing people and children to say hello without making too much fuss. The object is to allow him to experience these things in a positive manner not too scare him.

If you leave the introduction to the wider world until after the completion of vaccinations (approx. 12 to 14 weeks old) your puppy may be quite fearful of the sound of traffic, bikes, noisy children etc. He may also be afraid of interactions with strangers.

8- 12

Not only should you have your puppy display good manners to the people within your family you must get him comfortable with visitors coming to your home.

Ask as many of your friends to come around (try keeping them away) to visit your new addition. Make sure you have plenty of treats, for both your dog & the visitors, so your puppy learns to greet people correctly. Make sure when he receives a visitor he adopts the sit position before being rewarded and petted.

It is important that your puppy realises that people will visit your home. In getting him to greet correctly will reduce the future adolescent dog jumping all over your visitors mouthing them etc. Bad dog manners are enough to put you off asking friends around or indeed people wanting to visit you.

8-12

Hopefully you haven’t purchased a puppy to leave at home whilst you go to work for 12 hours a day! But you have to get him used to being left alone for short periods at first. Make sure he has toileted and is happy, put him into his crate without any fuss, leave him a Kong filled with some of his dried kibble and leave a radio or TV on for background noise. Go and do some grocery shopping or any other task you need to perform but do not leave him for more than an hour at a time, build this time up gradually over the next four weeks but never for more than 3 hours at this age. If you are planning to use a dog walker in the future it might be an idea to introduce him to them now.

During this stage of development it is essential that your puppy is not left for hours on end alone, apart from the need to be fed & go the toilet dogs are companion animals and hate being left alone for too long. If however you plan to be around most of the time a situation will arise in the future when you have to go out. Getting your puppy used to these situations at the age prevents problems in the future. If you are using a dog walker get them to come to your home and visit for a pee/play break, make sure they wash their hands before touching your puppy!

8-12

Make sure you play and interact with your puppy often during the day. Playing with toys together not only helps his development and your bond together but gives you an opportunity to begin training commands like not biting your hand, use your mouth on the toy instead! Whilst you are interacting together you can groom and check your puppy all over, paws, eyes, mouth & ears. Get all the members of your family & friends to do the same.

Playing is very important. It is how dogs & indeed humans learn one another’s limitations. Handling your puppy is essential to get him used to being touched in a positive manner where he wouldn’t normally expect to be touched. You must prepare him for vet trips where he may have a sore ear which within itself is a bad enough experience but if he was never taught for a human to touch him there will make the trip a far worse one for him and the vet.

8-12

The car- The first experience your puppy would have had (possibly) of a car journey would be leaving his litter to begin his new life with you. Try to make a few short positive trips before his next journey to the vet for his first vaccinations. Make sure he has an empty tummy to minimise being sick. If he appears distressed you don’t have to drive anywhere just sit in the car for a little while gradually building up time until you can move. If he is fine make the journeys short followed by a little play to let him associate a trip in the car with good things, it is a good idea to recruit help so he is not alone whilst you drive.

One of the great plus points of having a dog is day trips with the family to the beach or out in the countryside for a good day out and picnic. Essentially in order to get these places you have to travel. Getting a dog used to car journeys whilst they are young builds up a positive association to car journeys and prevents travel sickness.

13-16

Now your puppy is ready to go out walks get him used to walking on leash, it is unrealistic to expect him to “walk to heel” as soon as you venture out but essential that you begin leash manners. Use treats to keep him at your side as much as possible always using a treat/reward system, walking beside you should be a good thing but if you are constantly jerking on his neck he will inevitably not see at as pleasure. Make sure that he generalises his welcoming strangers into your home in the correct manner by sitting not jumping when outside. Get strangers to greet him by asking for a sit then treat & praise rather than encouraging or allowing him to jump up.

All too often I see members of the public being walked by their puppies and thinking that they will grow into in walking beside them. Consistency from the first day would be far better for both dog and owner. Walking a dog is of the best points of being a dog owner and it should be a joy rather than a task. Also in my own experience your puppy jumps up and you attempt to lure him into a sit asking people to give him a treat for sitting (that I will happily supply) they generally answer “it’s ok I don’t mind he is only young” It makes me want to scream, you won’t say that in four months time when my large dog gets muddy paws all over your coat. CONSISTENCY from day one!

13-16

Find a good puppy class and get started. Don’t wait from problems to occur and then call a professional to help you; prevention is far greater than a cure.

Even if you have had a puppy before the benefits from attending a class are huge. Your puppy will be allowed to socialise with dogs of a similar age as well as learn new things. The guidance from a good professional will help you pin point problems before they becoming rooted and you as an owner get to socialise with other owners that you will potentially meet when out on a walk.

13-16

Extending time alone. Your puppy should now be more than happy to be left for a while alone. You can start extending this and also if you are using a dog walker he will be going out with them also.

Again it is essential if you are to have a normal life to get your puppy used to being left. Do not only do it during the day but also introduce an evening (not is they have been left during that day for a period of time). This gets your dog used to all scenarios.

13-16

Out in the park. You should be taking your puppy lots of different walks, do not be tempted to go too far as they are still young and tire easily. When you are introducing your puppy to other dogs make sure that they are safe. Do not let your young dog off the leash to run around like a maniac greeting every tom, dick & harry. Take your puppy to the dogs and make sure that the other dog and owner are comfortable with the situation.

Other owners know there dogs (or should) so you have to check that is safe for your puppy to meet them. You will not only be keeping your puppy from being potentially harmed but also teaching him proper etiquette. Again waiting until he is adolescent and thinking he will grow out of it is very naive. This is when most social problems can begin through no fault of your puppy; again prevention is better than cure.

13-16

You must continue to play with your puppy both at home and when outside. This will teach them about not getting too excited and help with the puppy biting. If they are hell bent on biting you rather than the toy say “ouch!” and end the game for a few minutes by walking away. Always return to see if they got it.

 

I find playing and interacting with them outside prevents them from running off to find something far more interesting than you!

17-20

By now you should be able to venture further afield. You’re now “young dog” should not be jumping on people when they meet and also socialising with other canines correctly. Make sure that you are not always doing the same walks and meeting the same people, you must challenge your puppy. Taking him to different places sometimes in the car, makes for a far more exciting life for both of you. You should be doing lots of stimulating things, practicing recalls, playing with a ball, doing sits & stays outside and even playing hide & seek together. You should also every now and again return him to the leash for a little time out and a calm walk, always let him go again so that he doesn’t learn that by putting on the leash means we are going home, he will quickly cease to come back.

It is really important as your puppy enters adolescence to make each and every walk interesting. Training never ends and every walk should be an opportunity to fine tune skills.

17-20

A trip to the vet should not always be for treatment. Take your dog to the vet simply to pop your head in the door, you can always buy a chew or a bag of biscuits or ask for your dog to be weighed. Most vets would welcome first your custom and the fact that you are making trips to vets easier.

I have done this with all my puppies and I now have grown dogs that will happily let a vet handle them at their sorest point, I am delighted that they behave so well they are on the blood donor scheme helping other dogs when needed and they don’t mind a bit!

 

The socialisation of your puppy is very important. You must however recognise that how you go about this differs from breed to breed and individual to individual. Some breeds are naturally wary of strangers whilst others are very welcoming to anyone. Akitas for example are renowned for their protectiveness and their devotion to family members. Keeping that in mind they will more than likely require early socialisation with strangers both into your home and whilst outside to help desensitise that side of them on the other hand a Flat-coated Retriever is more than happy to meet and greet anyone so they will require more training in not becoming over excited when welcoming people. Along with breed there are individual concerns, some puppies are very confident and will require you as their owner to not allow them to attempt to take over situations as they could be a nuisance to others (both people and dogs) and other puppies are far more introverted, perhaps even fearful which will then require you to be much more gentle and understanding when introducing them to new situations, over eagerness on your part could make them far worse.

Puppies that are under socialised will inevitably find all new situations difficult. They will become very fearful which can unfortunately lead to aggression. If you miss out getting them used to people at an early age will make them impossible to be handled by anyone. When that puppy has to go the vets for example he will probably require a muzzle to prevent him from biting and he will be petrified. If you do not allow them to socialise correctly with other dogs your puppy could be overly friendly and overly boisterous making dogs wary and perhaps aggressive towards him, which in turn could make him aggressive. Again the other side of the coin he could be very nervous and fearful perhaps nipping other dogs for getting too close or running away whenever he sees another canine. All these situations will make taking your dog anywhere an almost military task. I personally have witnessed a couple walking their dog about 200 yards apart with a walkie talkie making sure the coast is clear. Absolutely ludicrous behaviour. Easily prevented with proper socialisation.

Socialisation is a tight rope, you can for some dogs never do enough whilst others too much. Always make sure your dog is listening to you and he is comfortable with whatever you are introducing to him before proceeding.

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