Socialisation part 2: the puppy party
I decided to continue talking about socialisation of puppies; it is so important it is worth banging on about it. When I send my puppies off to their new homes it is a crucial part of their puppy pack. I sit down with my owners before they are allowed to depart and go through the pack with them. I make sure they know that they are aware of the Puppy Socialisation Plan I tell them what I have done already and what they need to do now. This includes the puppy party.
Out and about
It seems pretty obvious that when you have a new puppy you want to show it off! Of course that is only natural. However, we are always told that puppies cannot go out until after their first vaccination. Well yes and no.
First of all, puppies are covered by their mother’s immunity, so they should not be vaccinated until they are at least 8 weeks of age. Many vets are asking owners to wait a little longer before starting the vaccination program, which seems sensible to me.
Secondly, puppies can go to places that are unlikely to be contaminated by dogs with diseases. So if you are allowed to take your puppy to work and the only other dog there has been vaccinated, you are likely to be safe.
Thirdly, why not carry your puppy? This is what I did with Ounce, at the start of her adventures last year.
The KC plan says:
“Introduce your puppy to friendly healthy vaccinated dogs if you know any. If not, speak to your veterinary practice or your chosen puppy training class – some have days where your pup can meet friendly staff dogs in a safe environment.”
Veterinary practices usually run a ‘puppy party’ every few weeks to allow people to enable their pups to interact with other dogs. However, a word of caution here. Some puppies are naturally lively and boisterous, wanting to play with everything that comes along. Other puppies are more reticent, easily feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of noisy, puppies bouncing into their faces.
Just as when dogs are unhappy about interacting with children, puppies can give ‘calming signals‘ to other dogs to show that they have had enough. Please pay attention to your puppy and understand when he has had enough? Don’t let your puppy become the party pooper who spoils everyone’s fun!
All experiences need to be totally positive – so if it is a person, they should give the puppy a treat. If it is an experience (car, traffic, pub etc) you need to make sure you treat and reward the puppy in that environment. Play a game with him, feed him his dinner there. Socialising a young puppy is easy – as most people you meet will want to see him and will be happy to help!
Use interactive toys stuffed with food, to give him problems to solve. He needs controlled frustration to deal with to continue his brain development in his new home. Introduce him to tunnels, steps, things to clamber over, and different surfaces to walk on.
Being alone and settling down
Teach him that part of his new life includes being left alone for short periods of time – or not having constant access to you. Do this from the first day you bring him home. Use a dog cages or crate or a baby gate to separate him from you at least once every day. This should be at times when there are positive things happening (eating dinner, chewing a stuffed Kong etc). To start with he should still be able to see you (and so not feel deserted).
Continue to use the noise CD that the breeder has been using (or you can buy one from Amazon) to play unexpected noises (if he hasn’t had the benefits of the first 8 week Puppy Plan, start these very quietly at meal times or game times, and slowly build up the volume).
Teach your puppy about relaxation, being calm around you etc. This includes being groomed, and being handled around his feet, face, mouth, ears etc. Remember to reward him all the time when he is still and relaxed. Many owners miss this one in all the excitement and so the dog thinks everything is a game and never keeps still when the owner is around.
Encourage periods of quiet time – when he is relaxed and settles down in your presence. Start these as very short periods, using a crate or a play pen beside you if necessary. Give your puppy something to occupy him such as an interactive toy (like a Kong stuffed with food).
Ask for help?
You are very welcome to CONTACT ME to ask for my advice. I can help you with a variety of issues and problems around getting a dog. This includes suggestions for tackling training issues. Go to the What Dog? page for more information on my new service.
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