By Laura Pakis, Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Blogger
You just got a cute adorable puppy but now you’re wondering how to control this chomping bundle of fluff. It is up to you to take the beginning steps to help your puppy develop and grow into a well-mannered and well-socialized dog. Between the ages of 7 and 16 weeks dogs begin to form attitudes and opinions that will last a life-time. It is crucial that you begin a socialization program with your puppy at an early age. This early start is important in preventing future behavioral problems.
Exposing your puppy at an early age to a variety of sounds, sights and objects will build confidence and develop a bond between you and your dog. Through handling exercises the puppy becomes desensitized to sudden pats, nail trimming, veterinary check ups and new situations. Teaching a puppy how to fit into a domestic world also makes training easier. Puppy socialization should be a pleasurable learning experience for everyone involved. Some suggestions include:
- Exposing the puppy to household appliances and tools that are not harmful to them (keep in mind that a little hesitation or fear may prevent an injury, depending on the item in question)
- Toughing and handling your puppy all over his body, especially inside his mouth, as well as handling his feet.
- Trimming your puppy’s nails weekly and bathing him every two weeks or as necessary.
- Taking your puppy outdoors daily in a supervised capacity for a few minutes a day where they can see traffic and other activities.
In addition to keeping your puppy’s vaccinations up-to-date and your yard clean and free of feces, you should start obedience training at an early age (14 to 16 weeks). Obedience training develops an avenue for communication between you and your dog and will prevent the start of unwanted behavior problems
A certified professional trainer can assist you with socializing your puppy while correcting playbiting, accidents in the house and barking. A professional trainer has a genuine interest and concern for the improvement of the mental and physical well-being of dogs. One of the most valuable skills a professional trainer has is their ability to utilize their techniques specific for the dog they are training. Training techniques should be based on evaluating the personality of the dog and the needs of its owner. From this a trainer can offer direction on raising that type, breed and temperament of puppy and later formulate an appropriate training program to successfully train the dog and educate it’s owners in handling and modifying their dog’s behavior.
Taking the steps now to socialize your puppy will assist you with understanding their puppy and in getting the most out of your lives together.