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Solid Puppy Socialization training

 Solid Puppy Socialization training

puppy training

If you haven’t already heard about socialization, you will soon enough - it’s absolutely crucial for puppy development. In fact, it continues to contribute significantly through a dog’s first two years.  Any good dog-training program will teach this concept along with some helpful exercises.

What is socialization?  It’s the entire range of experience that prepares a puppy for his world.  Puppies who get short-changed in this department can grow up nasty, shy, anxious, or defensive.  Once those patterns are established they can be extremely difficult, sometimes impossible, to change.  If it’s bad enough, this can mean euthanasia for a pet who’s become dangerous or unmanageable.  So it’s vital to get Rascal off to a good start.

Between age 4-12 weeks, puppies get ‘wired’ for interactions with their environment.  Rascal is curious and receptive to all kinds of encounters: play with littermates, human handling, household sounds, textures underfoot.  As he safely, happily explores and makes discoveries, Rascal learns to be comfortable in all kinds of situations.  Properly socialized, he grows up relaxed and flexible.  Since Rascal is still at the breeder’s home during most of this early period, it’s essential to find a breeder who knows their stuff!

This is also why it’s so important to let puppies stay as long as possible with their mom and littermates.  Recommendations vary, but certainly never take a 5-week-old away from its litter.  Many experts prefer waiting as long as 12 weeks before sending pups to their new homes.  Some say as young as 8 weeks, although the 8th week of life is one of the most sensitive.  Extra care must be taken to ensure all experiences during this week are completely safe and happy.

Once he comes home, introduce him to society: take him in the car, to the drive-through, the vet’s and groomer’s.  Have him walk on sand, pebbles, metal grating, and grass, slippery floors, carpet, and cement.  Visit a children’s playground as well as a senior center.  Introduce him to tall people, children, men with beards, people wearing floppy coats, glasses, or hats, patients in wheelchairs, people with high or low voices.  In other words, any kind of sensory input you can offer Rascal, do it!  Make sure these learning experiences are pleasant and relaxed.  Praise and give treats each time.  If possible, recruit the people he’s meeting to give him treats, too.  Above all, don’t force him - take baby steps, and he’ll acclimate more easily.

Once Rascal is 10 weeks old, enroll him in positive-style dog learning class.  He’ll meet other people and puppies, learn how to play and communicate with other dogs, and have fun with you.  Just having other pets at home won’t prepare him for real-world encounters.  Dog training for puppies is valuable even if your family is seasoned - there’s just no substitute for puppy kindergarten.

Be sure Rascal has had all three sets of vaccines before introducing him to dogs outside of his obedience class.  Until he’s fully inoculated, don’t chance exposure to dogs who might be contagious.  But don’t wait to start dog obedience training until he’s 6 months old!  By then, the opportunity has passed, no matter how ‘safe’ he’s been from potential diseases. 

Continue socialization through Rascal’s adolescence and young adulthood.  Teenage is when aggression or personality changes can surface, so supervise and intervene to prevent trauma.  Once he’s older he won’t be so susceptible to negative influences.  Provide Rascal with good early socialization, take him to dog-training class with other puppies, and his entire life will be much more enriching