The MOST IMPORTANT thing to realise is that a puppy needs socialising! Imagine you are a puppy and have been shut in your house with just your family for a month – nice, calm, cosy and most importantly, safe!
Life is grand: you know where everything is, who everyone is and there are no surprises! Then you get taken to a party with 200 people in a cramped room and you don’t know anyone. How are you going to feel? Insecure, scared, overwhelmed?
Well, it’s exactly the same for your puppy. They have their first injections at 8 weeks and then again at 10 weeks and then they can go out on their first walk at 12 weeks. The time may drag for you but for your puppy they’re unaware as to what goes on behind the front door in the big open world. So always book onto a good puppy class first. (See our ‘Events’ page here)
Some classes will take your puppy before they’ve had their 2nd injection. If you can please do this; as the earlier you can start the better. Make sure that the organizer can confirm they mop and disinfect the floor they’re training on as your puppy won’t be fully immune. The choice is yours but I do recommend people weigh up the risks.
After their 1st injection they are covered for the illnesses it protects from and the chance of picking something nasty up is quite remote as long as you take necessary precautions!
Don’t take them on huge walks where there are 100’s of other dogs that may carry illnesses. Stick to your local street where you know the people and other dogs so you can protect as much as you can. So the biggest risk with an unsocialised puppy is being scared!
Fear provokes a response from a puppy – they can run and hide, growl, bark or even bite as it’s the only defence they have. In the house the puppy is safe and knows everyone but he might not, for example, know your next door neighbor. If your neighbour is over 6 feet tall and has a very dominating presence this may scare your puppy. This memory can stay with the puppy for life and have a lasting effect.
If however your puppy has already started puppy classes and you invite your neighbour in for a cup of coffee and to meet the puppy on his terms maybe the puppy will love your neighbour!!
Always remember when approaching a strange dog or a nervous pup to kneel down. Get down to them so that you’re not leaning over them in a dominating way as that will immediately put them on the defensive. So start off on the right foot and get down to their level!
Different breeds have different socializing windows. For breeds that are typically known for use as guard dogs or police dogs such as German Shepherds the socializing window you have is very short. If you have a German Shepherd pup aim to show them off to the world as soon as possible.
Don’t get me wrong I love German Shepherds they’re one of my favourites but the way they’ve been bred over the years for working means they need extra socializing from a young age so they learn to be a pet rather than a worker. So when you get your pup after their 1st inoculation at 8 weeks carry them around to meet and greet people, invite every man and their dog round to your house to meet your new addition.
Get on to a good puppy class that does reward based training.
I once spoke to someone who said: ”Well, he tries to steal food so I smack him on the nose and shout ‘bed!’ at him”.
So I asked: “Does that stop him doing it again?” He responded with: “Well, no” So I said: “Why do it then? Why not try a different approach as it’s not working.”
This particular person then bought a kong – stuffed it with moistened dog food and froze it.
The dog was so preoccupied with his kong he totally forgot about the food he was trying to reach and the owner was over the moon! So always ask ‘why’ is your puppy or dog doing what they are doing? What can you distract them with?
My point is: a telling off doesn’t really work with dogs. If you can give them something else to do that is more fun, doesn’t get them smacked on the nose, earns them treats and cuddles from their favourite person – then you’ve won and your dog will love you for it!!
Come in to the shop and have a chat with us about any of these issues we’re always happy to help J Also book your pet onto one of our puppy parties: please see the ‘Events’ section here.