Top Dog Pawformance

Professional Dog Training and Boarding Services Brisbane Queensland Australia

Lets run through part 3 of the in’s and out’s of preparing your home and family for a puppy.

After you’ve prepared what we’ve covered in part 1 & part 2 of “How to prepare for a puppy” it’s time to start thinking about training and socialization for your puppy.

Finding the right trainer or training organization is just as important as it is to feed the right diet and take your puppy to the right vet. The way you train your dog will effect the over-all outcome of your relationship with one another and the relationship your dog has with the world they live in.

1. When should you begin training / socializing your puppy?

It’s best to make a plan before your puppy arrives; so you’ll have a good idea about what the best way to train your puppy.This way, you’ll have a clear goal in mind to make sure your puppy is socialized well from the start.

The catch about socialization; is that the when your puppy’s “critical period” of socialization shuts, it SLAMS shut. Experts differ in their opinions on when that happens, but with most dogs it’s at the age of 16wks (some having a slightly longer or shorter “critical period of socialization”)

So playing it safe with your puppy, having a plan and goal in mind BEFORE they arrive home with you and then getting right into it when they come home the first time, is SUPER important.

If your puppy is from a registered and professional breeder, chances are, they’ve received SOME form quality of early socialization. Though not all breeders are equal.

Make sure you do your research and find a breeder who is putting in the hard yards for their puppies to have the best start possible. (i.e – trips to the vet, car rides, meeting young kids, elderly people, exposure to different sounds / surfaces, gentle handling, early toilet training, name recognition etc.)

If you know your breeder well; you can make simple requests such as:
– Asking to have your puppy hear a clicker or a word you intend to use in training, every time before they eat their meal.
– Asking to have your puppy exposed to baby noises to prepare them for being around your baby or young child.
– Asking to have your puppy find their food sprinkled in a ball pit filled with cans and bottles

Etc.

2. Should you wait until after all of their needles?

Did you know that one of the biggest mistakes new puppy owners make, is to keep their puppy locked away at home, exposing them to very little?

Don’t make that mistake!

Socializing your puppy before they’ve had all their needles ISN’T a scary thing and shouldn’t be feared. Yes, there is common sense caution to take, like not exposing your puppy to unknown dogs, or taking your puppy to a dog park, but showing your dog the world, in a safe way is totally possible!

As a result of keeping puppies locked away from the world; many people end up with nervous, skittish and very often aggressive dogs, which have no idea how to behave in or interact with the world they live in.

Under socialized (or poorly socialized) puppies tend to respond to change with fear and nervousness. They don’t seem to take anything in their stride. They seem to do well in familiar situations and contexts; but when something changes, like moving to a new home, a new dog or person entering the family, construction work next door etc. they crumble under the pressure.

Of course; proper socialization alone isn’t always going to 100% prevent behavior problems in dogs. Though it can be said that proper socialization WILL reduce the risk of your dog developing scary behavior problems, massively.

3. The best way to socialize your puppy.

With all of the conflicting information on the internet, it’s no wonder some people end up confused. Any responsible puppy owner wants their puppy to be happy and enjoy the world they live in, without fear or distress.

The best way make sure that happens, is to socialize your puppy to as many things as possible, in a controlled and fun way.

Take your puppy, on leash, in your arms at first, to skate parks, beaches, outside shopping centers, cafe’s, school drop offs, car trips, the vets, across strange surfaces like wobbly bridges, small sets of stairs – anything you can think of, that you can make sure your puppy can be exposed to safely.

Guide your puppy through their experiences. Don’t forget, 1 fright doesn’t mean the end of the world. Look at the way your puppy recovers when startled. If they behave fearfully, help them through it, guiding them towards the thing which has frightened them and rewarding them heavily at the source. If your puppy takes everything in their stride, be sure you’re still rewarding them for their appropriate responses to strengthen that attitude and outlook on their world.

Don’t forget to expose your puppy to novel and new surfaces, sounds and smells. In example, things like balloons, cars starting, lawn mowers, edge trimmers, the hose, fans, part poppers, storms, rain, wet grass, etc are ALL on the important list of things your puppy should be used to before their critical period is over.

So, you’ve decided to get a puppy…

Congratulations!

With this blog; we’re going to make sure that you’re totally prepared for your new family member!

Let’s talk about what you’ll need to do and have on hand BEFORE your new puppy arrives in your home. Then, lets go over what to do, to make sure you and your puppy start on the right paw together.

You’ll also find MORE tips and advice in our articles vault, so you can be sure that you’re covered on all of the need to know basics, for surviving AND thriving with your new puppy.

1. Bowls

When it comes to what type of bowl to use for your puppy’s water (we’ll talk about why you shouldn’t feed your puppy exclusively from a bowl soon) we reckon a stainless-steel bowl is always the best way to go. Plastic bowls can leach chemicals into your puppy’s water and ceramic bowls can break if they’re knocked over (or if it accidentally dropped.)

Stainless-steel bowls are also practically impossible to destroy by chewing so no need to worry that young “Fido” will be able to swallow any chewed off bits. We’d recommend having a few stainless-steel bowls, this way, you can rotate and clean the bowls, always having a clean one out for your puppy.

2. Collars & Harnesses

Did you know that one of the most common mistakes people make, when they first take their puppy out for a walk, is that they have their puppy on a collar and lead? If your puppy pulls into the collar while you’re walking together, they’re actually learning that pulling is OKAY, and that couldn’t be further from the truth.

To avoid this, we recommend putting your puppy on a harness when you’re not working on teaching them about lead manners. This way, your puppy has a very clear signal about when it is okay to pull and when it is not. Then, when your puppy is on their flat collar, use that opportunity to train them to walk with you and to understand that pulling into the collar wont get them what they want.

3. Toys

There are two main types of toys you’ll need to get for your puppy. Toys which they can chew and explore safely with their mouths and toys which you reserve for training, like soft stuffed toys with squeakers in them.

Chew toys can also include toys which dispense treats, these give your puppy a whole lot of enrichment for times when they might be alone or required to stay in their exercise pen for a longer period of time.

Just remember not to leave your puppy’s stuffed toys and toys with squeakers out for your puppy to freely investigate. We want to make sure that these toys stay special and interesting to the puppy and that we can use it as “currency” when we train with them. This will also prevent your puppy from “dismembering” their stuffed toys and squeaky toys; which means no expensive vet visits to remove non-edibles from your puppy’s belly!

4.  Bedding

You’ll want to have a comfortable and cosy place for your puppy to sleep when they’re in their crate or exercise pen. Just don’t be tempted to go buying expensive beds. Puppies tend to be insistent chewers and could easily destroy the brand-new bed you’d so lovingly purchased them only the day before.

We’d recommend just using a couple old towels or maybe an old faux-fur blanket to give them something soft and warm to sleep on. They’ll be super easy to clean and it won’t be a huge deal if any of it gets a little chewed. Something that should help preserve your puppy’s soft bedding, is to only have it in their crate or exercise pen when it’s time to sleep, that way, they’re already tired and less likely to get “jazzed up” and chew the soft stuff.

If you or someone you know, is introducing a new fur-family member into the household, just remember that the first few nights at home will set up your new puppy’s expectations of how things work with you.

If they cry in their crate, don’t let them out straight away, wait for them to be quiet and then do a slow count to 5.

Once they’ve been quiet for a good 5 to 10 seconds then you can reward them by dropping a treat into their crate.

Want to learn more about how to prepare for your new puppy?

Check out part 3 on “Preparing for a puppy; the new puppy owners guide to surviving AND thriving with your new puppy”

So, you’ve decided to get a puppy…

Congratulations!

With this blog; we’re going to make sure that you’re totally prepared for your new family member!

Let’s talk about what you’ll need to do and have on hand BEFORE your new puppy arrives in your home. Then, lets go over what to do, to make sure you and your puppy start on the right paw together.

You’ll also find MORE tips and advice in our articles vault, so you can be sure that you’re covered on all of the need to know basics, for surviving AND thriving with your new puppy.


1. Diet & Nutrition

Chances are, your dog came to you from a breeder, puppy store or shelter organization, where they were fed a certain type of food. You can choose to continue feeding your puppy the same brand, or you could switch your puppy to a different type of food.

If your puppy has been eating a raw food diet while with the breeder or puppy store; we’d recommend continuing to feed your new puppy a commercially prepared, raw food diet, as this is one of the healthiest options for dogs.

Some brands we like the most include Naturally Raw, Proudi Patties, Big Dog Barf and Canine Country.

picture of golden retriever puppies eating dog biscuits out of a bowl

2. Crate / Exercise pen training

Did you know that one of the biggest mistakes new puppy owners make, is to give too much freedom to their puppy, way too soon?

Don’t make that mistake!

Crate training your puppy and training your puppy to be fine with being left alone in an exercise pen (puppy play pen) is a great way to be able to control the environment for your new puppy and will not only prevent your puppy from sneaking off to go toilet in and area they’re not supposed to, it will also keep your puppy safe from getting into things that are dangerous for them! Baby gates will also be hugely beneficial to have installed while your puppy is young, especially if you have stairs in your home.

Also, by training your puppy to be comfortable with spending time alone in their crate / exercise pen, you’ll also help them learn independence and self-control, so you’re more likely to end up with a dog who is confident and comfortable while alone, as well as a dog which doesn’t steal or destroy your personal belongings!

picture of a dog in a crate

3. Out of crate / exercise pen = On Lead

Having your new puppy on lead when they’re outside of their crate or exercise pen; will also make sure you have full control of what your puppy can and cannot access.

On top of preventing your puppy from getting into potentially hazardous situations, leashing your new puppy when they’re outside of their crate / exercise pen, pretty much full-time, will really make it easy to supervise your puppy and will keep you on track to helping your puppy learn to be the best companion ever!

picture of a puppy being held by it's owner.

4.  Puppy proof your home before your puppy arrives

Make sure your puppy doesn’t have access to anything potentially dangerous like, electrical cords, or open stair cases which they could fall through. Have a thorough look over your home and the areas you intend on having your puppy spend time with you; move anything that could be swallowed by your puppy or anything which could cause them injury i.e unstable shelving which could fall. If you do have stairs in your home; set up a baby gate to prevent your puppy from potentially falling or injuring their joints by attempting to descend or climb them.

Also take care of the obvious, like keeping rubbish bins out of the way, or put away in a cupboard where they can’t get to them and place house plants up high and out of reach from little puppy mouths. You’ll also want to make sure any cleaners and chemicals are kept securely in your cabinets.

Try to see your house from your puppy’s point of view. Puppy’s are naturally very curious and have a knack for finding something you’ve missed or something they can put in their mouth and play with.

Make sure your puppy doesn’t have access to anything potentially dangerous like, electrical cords, or open stair cases which they could fall through. Have a thorough look over your home and the areas you intend on having your puppy spend time with you; move anything that could be swallowed by your puppy or anything which could cause them injury i.e unstable shelving which could fall. If you do have stairs in your home; set up a baby gate to prevent your puppy from potentially falling or injuring their joints by attempting to descend or climb them.

Also take care of the obvious, like keeping rubbish bins out of the way, or put away in a cupboard where they can’t get to them and place house plants up high and out of reach from little puppy mouths. You’ll also want to make sure any cleaners and chemicals are kept securely in your cabinets.

Try to see your house from your puppy’s point of view. Puppy’s are naturally very curious and have a knack for finding something you’ve missed or something they can put in their mouth and play with.

picture of a puppy resting on a rug.

Now, if you’re one of the lucky ducks who is introducing a new puppy into your household, here’s another tip you can use right away! Even if you’ve already brought your puppy home, or you’re waiting on a litter, look into what typical “personality” traits are seen in the breed you’ve chosen and plan ahead about how you’re going to make sure their exercise, training and social needs will be met.

When you’ve done that, go ahead and find a local trainer, club or groups, where you’ll get the support and constructive feedback you and your puppy will need, in order to live your best lives together.

Above all, remember not to expect too much, too soon from your puppy – they’re learning about the world through what you tell them, so if they’re making mistakes, make sure you take a look at how and what you’re communicating to them.

Want to learn more about how to prepare for your new puppy?

Check out part 2 on “Preparing for a puppy; the new puppy owners guide to surviving AND thriving with your new puppy”

“My dog is usually super submissive, but now, he’s growling at other dogs, barking at people who come to the door and is suddenly pulling and lunging at buses and motorbikes that pass us when we’re walking…”

More often than not, this type of dog is a juvenile / adolescent dog, which was poorly or under socialized during their most critical period of learning.

These days; almost every pet store and vet’s clinic offers puppy preschool classes. The majority of these classes are staff run, with a lot of those staff being under trained, or trained by organizations which aren’t teaching proper protocol when it comes to puppy socialization and training.

I see A LOT of reactive, nervous, fearful, jerks come out of classes like the ones described above. Dogs which love to bully other dogs are fearful of other dogs, hypersensitised and overexcited by other dogs and have little to no social skills to be able to live a happy, safe and fulfilling life in the human world. So before we understand how to socialise your puppy with other dogs, we first need to know what puppy socialisation actually is.

What IS puppy socialization?

During what is appropriately called the “critical period” of a dogs life, puppies learn what is normal in the world. How to interact and feel about their environment, the people, animals and things in it, and what their place is in the human world.

Puppies aren’t immune to fear or trauma; but in general, well bred, puppies tend to accept anything they received “positive” exposure to. It’s like they create a catalogue of the sights, sounds, smells and surfaces they’ve experienced and store that away and draw on those experiences during different situations through in future.

Puppies with wide and varied experiences often learn that “new” does not always = scary.

When should you socialize your puppy?

As soon as you pick him or her up.

Ideally, your breeder will have made the start already. Exposing the litter of puppies to a variety of sounds, smells, surfaces, touch, people, car rides etc.

Not all breeders are created equal… Make sure you do your research and find out about what your breeder does to help give their puppies the best start. *Click here to see a list of things to ask your breeder.

I encourage you to play it safe though; and start your puppies training from the minute you collect them.

From the first day, drive with your puppy in their travel crate. Visit your local haunts and people watch. Sit at a bus stop on a busy street and watch / listen to the traffic pass. Exposing your puppy to the sights, sounds and smells of the world, from the safety of your lap or arms at first.

It’s important to keep in mind that this window of opportunity WILL close. Anything your puppy has learnt or not learnt will affect the outcome of their behaviour and attitude as an adult. This window of opportunity can vary per individual puppy, but it generally is from 8wks up until 16wks old.

Without proper socialization; your puppy is likely to be a skittish; nervous dog without the ability to cope or be truly happy in the human world. Under (or poorly) socialized puppies often go on the offensive when they reach adolescence; and learn that they can drive away the things which scare them with aggressive displays, snapping and biting.

How to socialize your puppy

  1. First; you’ll want to make sure you and your puppy are speaking the same language. By using a set of “markers” strengthen the likelihood that your puppy will behave the same way in future.
    *find out what the heck “markers” are; and why they’re so important.
  2. Expose your puppy to different sounds, surfaces, smells and sights. Familiarise them with different animals and people of all kinds.
  3. Take the puppy to school drop off, grocery errands, cafe visits and family events. Show your puppy how to *safely* navigate stairs of different kinds (open and closed).
  4. Visit places with low dog traffic; kids playing on scooters, skateboards, bicycles, playground equipment and allow polite children and people to approach nicely.
  5. Make sure your puppies experiences are positive and varied. Let your puppy stay with trusted friends to help them develop healthy independence separated from you.
  6. Seek opportunities to train and socialise your puppy, everywhere you can, keeping in mind the image of what you want your puppy to be accustomed to when they’re an adult.
dogs being obedient

What to do if your puppy is timid

If your puppy is timid or shows strong fear towards new things, start small, exposing your puppy to quiet people, strange noises at low volumes, different raised surfaces in the comfort of home and work on building up your puppies focus and bond with you.

More independent and confident puppies can sometimes breeze through this socialization process; however, don’t take it for granted and forget to be consistent with their socialization.

Struggling to socialize your puppy?

Contact us for more information about what to do and how to do it; and give your puppy the best start in life.