This week’s dog training tip is about learning from others. I cannot emphasize enough just how important it is to socialize your puppy. There are many stressful tasks that come with raising a puppy, but socializing your puppy can be a lot of fun and you can start this by enrolling her in training classes.  The more you expose your puppy to the world, the less likely it is that she will develop behaviour problems as an adult dog. Here are a few different ways that you can socialize your puppy:

Puppy day care. This is the perfect opportunity for your puppy to socialize in a structured environment with various dogs of all types and sizes.  The sooner your puppy learns to socialize with other dogs and people, the less likely she’ll show signs of fear or aggression around new dogs and people.

Frequent walks. Not only does this burn energy and provide exercise for your puppy, it gives her an opportunity to get to know the neighbourhood and to become familiar with different sights and sounds. This is especially important if you live in the city where you are surrounded by the startling sounds of traffic and constructions.

Make your puppy your errand buddy.  Bring your puppy with you as many places as you possibly can when running errands. It’ll give her the opportunity to experience crowds and bond with you at the same time. Many places now are dog friendly and will allow you to bring your dog in to the store. DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PUPPY LOCKED IN THE CAR!  If you think you may have to leave her in the car, you are better off just leaving her at home.

Get your puppy used to the everyday loud noises at home, such as the vacuum, blender, or coffee grinder. The sooner you introduce her to these sounds, the less likely it is that she will be startled by these appliances or bark when you use them.

Teach your puppy how to use the stairs. This is especially important if you live in a house with multiple levels. You will have to use your judgement to decide at which age, or size your puppy will be able to navigate the stairs. The height and number of the steps she’ll need to climb will also be a determining factor.

Start grooming your puppy early. This is really important. We have all seen the dog at the groomers who suddenly turns in to CUJO when the groomer approaches with a brush, blow dryer or clippers.  If you start grooming your puppy at a young age this is less likely to happen and the experience will be pleasant for both your puppy and the groomer.

Do not reward timid behavior. If, while out on a walk, your puppy reacts to an object she perceives as a threat and starts to bark at it and back away, do not reward the behaviour by instantly comforting her.  Encourage her to work through the fear and gently lead her past the object. This will teach her that the object really is harmless and that she is safe.

Socializing your puppy in the early stages is very important to her development. As she grows, she will learn to understand the world around her. This will help to build her confidence, reduce fear and decrease behavioural issues as she grows. This will make for a happy, well-adjusted puppy ready to take on the world.

Stay tuned for our next training tip #9- Stop the biting

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