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