Naturally, not every puppy comes from responsible beginnings. For the shelter puppy, one from a rescue group, or perhaps even a stray from completely unknown origins, your immediate attention to socialization can work wonders. This is the moments of your puppy’s life that can make or break his behavior and reaction to the outside world (as well as inside the house), for years to come.
However, keep in mind that, whether a few weeks or a few months old, coming home with you is a scary experience for a puppy. Give him a few days to adapt before taking him anywhere else.
Home soon provides a wonderful, secure environment for beginning socialization. The television, radio, blender and other appliances prepare your puppy for “strange” noises he may encounter later. Allowing him on different floorings, like vinyl, tile, wood and carpet, readies him for walking at the veterinarian’s office, pet supply store, friend’s homes, and more.
Of course every puppy is an individual and this fact greatly affects how you socialize your particular canine. Study your new addition, noting how he approaches unfamiliar objects and scenarios. A bold, fearless puppy frequently requires redirection to prevent him from jumping in headfirst, while a slightly timid or cautious youngster might need encouragement even in perfectly safe situations.
Professional trainers suggest that when your puppy shows hesitation towards something, don’t baby him. For instance, if your pup dislikes the slippery feel of vinyl, place a few pieces in or near his play area during supervised times. As you interact with him, purposefully disregard it when he “accidentally” places a foot on the vinyl. Your matter-of-fact attitude helps allay his concerns.
Alternatively, you can try throwing a favorite toy or treats onto the vinyl floor, enough so your pup’s feet make contact. This places his focus on having fun rather than worrying where he steps. As his confidence grows, sitting yourself on the vinyl floor further helps him forget his fears in order to join his favorite person.
These examples of positive, non-force methods illustrates how giving your puppy the time he needs builds confidence in his own abilities. Conversely, forcing a dog to confront and deal with something he is uncomfortable with, often called “flooding”, can be successful, but much depends on the dog, the issue, and application of the method. Done incorrectly, fears increase rather than decrease. For other than experienced trainers, positive works best.
March 12, 2010
Puppies should be exposed to, and allowed to play with, other healthy, vaccinated puppies and dogs (as long as everyone plays nicely). Puppy playdates are a great way to let your pup socialize and learn to properly interact with its fellow canine buddies. When puppies don’t interact with other puppies, they never learn social cues from other dogs, which can lead to fear or dog-aggression as the pup grows into adulthood.
However, make sure you take your puppy out for positive experiences at the right time and in the right places. Having the right vaccinations is vital to your pup’s health. Although specifics vary, depending on your vet and region of the country, most vets recommend a core set of vaccinations be given two to four weeks apart. A common schedule is canine parvovirus, adenovirus-2, parainfluenza and canine distemper at 8, 12 and 16 weeks.
Several days after puppies have completed their initial vaccinations, they can socialize with other well-cared-for puppies, and go to small public gatherings. However, it would be wise to wait until after 12 to 16 weeks of age and the completion of the final vaccinations before taking puppies to a larger public place, such as a dog park or dog show.
Puppy socialization class is a wonderful way to have your pup interact with lots of other puppies. You can make friends at these classes and set up home playdates with other new pups or dogs.
It’s best to introduce the dogs while on-leash or on opposite sides of a fence or barrier before allowing them to interact, especially if you don’t know the other dog well. Many adult dogs are good with young dogs, and can teach them proper doggie manners, but its important to watch out for aggressive adults. When in doubt, just don’t let your pup play.
Although new and different experiences are important to a puppy’s development, it’s also important not to overwhelm the little guy or gal. Let your pup stand back, observe and move at its own pace. Owners of more than one young puppy at a time know that every pup’s personality is different, and while one may find a specific new experience exciting, the other may start out with a nervous perception, and may need extra time to adjust.
The most important thing to keep in mind when setting up puppy playdates is that the experiences are best kept positive when all dogs are matched by age, size and personality type. The key aspect of a playdate is that you have plenty of supervision and make certain you allow for rest or nap time.
March 11, 2010
When raising a new puppy, you will find all kinds of information and articles that help you understand how to feed your puppy, housetraining, and grooming tips. Today we want to brush up on how to get your puppy to experience a positive upbringing by way of socialization.
Growing into adulthood is a very important topic that should be taken into consideration. While even animals in the wild will eventually grow to maturity with no human care all, it is important for your new puppy to develop a certain sociability, a willingness and desire to live with and around people, and to accept his owner’s word as law, since such is his lot in life.
Proper Socialization Doesn’t Happen By Accident
This socialization is accomplished not haphazardly, not by chance, but rather by diligence, hard work, and intelligent handling. Exposing a puppy to a variety of stimuli and gently, patiently, guiding him with each new experience will serve to create a confident, well-educated, socially acceptable canine.
The spooky dog, the fear-biter, the animal who backs away when approached, and many other dogs who behave in socially unacceptable fashions were created by neglect; neglect on the part of their owners to expose them to what the world has in store. Often these poor, neurotic animals are filed as the unfortunate status of “outdoor dogs” since they have become virtually uncontrollable under normal living conditions as family pets.
Proper socialization includes exposure to noises, unfamiliar people and places, other animals, children, travel, and other such stress-like situations. Puppies may be cautious about unusual and unknown things. Their lack of confidence may be demonstrated by barking, backing away, whining, or acting with nastiness.
Reassuring your puppy, talking to him quietly, giving praise, and coaxing him to explore the offending object or person will teach them that there is nothing to fear. Each time he overcomes his anxiety, new self-confidence is developed and he will find his next unfamiliar situation less threatening.
His exposure to people and children should be treated in a similar fashion. Many puppies are quite comfortable with all types of people, big or small, but just as many are timid when presented with unfamiliar faces. Ask strangers and children to play with the puppy, to pet him and gently encourage him to make friends. Kneeling to his level or sitting beside him on the floor will eliminate some of the trepidation he might feel by their mere size or quickness of the children’s movements.
One Last Word About Children…
Very young children should be allowed to play with animals only under direct adult supervision. A puppy is not a stuffed toy and should the child mishandle him, the animal could be irrevocably damaged regarding his adjustment to all children in the future. Therefore, if your child is too young to understand the concept of gentleness, by all means wait before bringing a little pup into the household or you may want to consider buying an adolescent puppy (4 to 9 months old) rather than an infant one.