Training and Socialising your Puppy
How to have a happy and well-adjusted dog
Every dog owner would like a dog that is happy, comfortable, and easy to control in all situations. If we start working at it when she is very young, we can ensure that we have a dog that is a pleasure to have and take anywhere, and whose life is rich, happy, and fulfilling. It’s so much easier to prevent unwanted behaviour problems in a young puppy, than to have to deal with them in an adult dog!
Always encourage/reward good behaviour and prevent/stop unwanted behaviour using positive methods only.
The crucial learning period is when your puppy is 3-13 weeks old, called the ‘sensitive’ period. During that time, your puppy will learn what she likes and dislikes. Any unfamiliar things encountered during these weeks are interesting to her, not necessarily scary. During this sensitive period it is important to ‘proof’ your puppy against everyday, but potentially scary situations. She will then be able to develop coping strategies to use later in life.
After 12 weeks of age, new experiences can become worrying for your puppy and she is less able to cope.
How often have you heard someone say something like “My dog hates men in hats, she must have had a bad experience with this as a puppy”? In fact it’s more likely that this dog had never seen a man in a hat until she reached adulthood and was therefore not used to this sight, and so becomes fearful or aggressive in defence!
Below is a checklist for you to help prepare your puppy for adult life:
It is important that these things are not just done once, but regularly during the sensitive period and then continued for the first year of your dog’s life in order for her to remember them.
Places to go
Carry your puppy to some of these places as there is a risk of disease if other unvaccinated dogs are in the area.
- Veterinary surgery (pop in regularly to say hello and let us make a fuss of your puppy)
- Grooming parlour (Ask the staff in these places to make a fuss of your puppy and give a treat if appropriate.)
- Other peoples' houses (If these people own dogs ensure they are fully vaccinated.)
- Pubs/parties/busy areas
- School/recreation area
- Busy roads (on the pavement!)
- Public transport
- Park/rural area
Activities to encourage
- Walking with restraint (lead/harness)
- Medical examination (Opening the mouth and touching the paws, ears and eyes.)
- Car journey
People and animals to meet
- Elderly people (including wheelchairs etc.)
- Confident/loud people
- Shy/quiet people
- Delivery people (Take your puppy to greet them and ask the delivery person to make a fuss of your puppy/offer a treat.)
- Novel attire such as head gear/ glasses/ beards/ prams/ bicycles/ walking sticks etc.
- Dogs (old and young)
- Other domestic pets
- Livestock (Definitely consider this if you might ever consider taking your pet with you on holiday.)
Things to encounter
- Vacuum cleaner
- Washing machine
- Tumble dryer
- Hair dryer
- Children’s toys
- Solitude (This is probably the most important as life can change at any time for you and you must prepare your puppy for being left alone.)