This period of COVID isolation has proven to be a popular time for many people to buy a puppy. With many people on leave from their jobs or working from home, they now have the extra time on their hands that is required to care for and train a puppy.
Puppies have a whole lot of special needs, however, in this post, I’m going to concentrate on just one – socialisation.
Before you start training, ask the breeder or wherever you acquired your puppy whether your puppy has been exposed to other dogs, animals, and people.
What sort of environmental enrichment have they had to prepare for their journey into the busy, loud, colourful world?
Ideally, they should have had supervised appropriate exposure from two weeks of age to different surfaces, age-appropriate obstacle courses, opportunities to play with different textured and sounding toys and of course to socialise with humans.
Socialising your puppy needs to happen in stages in order for them not become overwhelmed and/or fearful.
These are the first 3 steps:
- Start socialising your puppy when they are very young (initially in your home environment until they are vaccinated.) Then you can begin taking them out into the community to introduce them to different people, sights, and sounds.
- Introduce your puppy to people of varied size, age, and background.
Use plenty of rewards when they’re relaxed in a new situation. If your puppy is feeling uncomfortable don’t overly reassure them, let them process and be aware of what’s going on around them. If your pup startles or appears fearful of a new situation or object, ignore the scary thing and give them an instruction to move on.
- When greeting unknown animals, the best thing for your puppy is a polite interaction – a quick nose sniff and butt sniff, and then away you go.
Have fun, enjoy the time with your puppy and don’t forget this is the age you need to start training. A good foundation in the six core behaviours (sit, stay, down, quiet, come and loose-lead walking) makes for a happy, harmonious household as your puppy matures.