The First 12-16 Weeks
The most important period of development in a puppy’s life is around 12-16 weeks. This is the age that most socialisation and familiarisation takes place. Socialisation is the process whereby puppies become familiar with other animals, people and the environment and learn social rules and their position within the group. It is important to introduce your puppy to a wide range of stimuli such as people, cars and different noises but to do this gradually, starting with less challenging situations first and ensuring your puppy always remains relaxed.
My Puppy Seems Frightened?
If your puppy is frightened it may try and get away from the stimulus, freeze, or bark. You shouldn’t try and reassure your puppy if it’s frightened as you may inadvertently reward the fearful behaviour and make it worse in the long run. The best approach is to try and behave as though nothing has happened.
As a dog owner you have a responsibility to keep your dog under control, so training in the basic commands of sit, stay, down, come and heel are essential. Most people will need help with this initially by going to training classes. We have a list of local classes at reception, please ask. There are several local classes, it is a good idea to chat with the trainer and observe a class before you take your puppy, look for;
Kind and effective training methods that reward good behaviour rather than punishing bad.
Classes that are not overcrowded.
Classes that don’t have aggressive dogs that may affect your dog’s behaviour.
Separate puppy classes to begin with.
General Rules for Training
Do not shout at your dog – it may carry on doing what it was doing and even get more excited as it may interpret your shouting as you getting excited. You are also rewarding unwanted behaviour by giving attention.
Ignore unwanted behaviour – praise good behaviour.
Be consistent – don’t allow or encourage unwanted behaviour. Get the whole family on board and make sure you are giving clear and consistent commands and that you are all using the same ones.
Be calm when you or visitors greet your puppy so it doesn’t become overexcited.
Separate your puppy from children for a short time if either the puppy or the children get too boisterous.
If you want your puppy to do something, you have to train it first – Start with the task when the puppy is relaxed and there are no distractions.
Reward your puppy when it does something you want, this could be with a treat or toy – you must reward it immediately it has done the wanted behaviour, don’t wait or you could be rewarding something else!
Don’t keep repeating commands or signals as your dog could learn to ignore them, if your dog is not responding, start again with training task when the puppy is quiet and there are no distractions.
Remember what may be cute or funny behaviour in a puppy may not be so cute in an adult dog, so training your puppy to be well behaved and obedient will make it adaptable and a pleasurable member of the family for life!