Bringing a new puppy home is an incredibly exciting time, but it can also be a lot of work!
Turning your cheeky puppy into a well-adjusted adult is incredibly important, and something that shouldn’t be rushed. Once you’ve let your pup settle into their new home and they have bonded with you, you can start incorporating a few small training sessions into your day as well as plenty of positive socialisation experiences.
It’s easy to jump straight into things such as sit and stay, but there are so many life skills your pup needs to know first.
For example toilet training, name recognition, recall, how to walk nicely on a lead, how to enjoy time in a crate, travelling in a car, not to jump up as well as being comfortable around a variety of people in a variety of places. The list goes on and on!
Be sure to set your boundaries now. If you don’t want your adult dog on the couch, or in the kitchen, or if you want them to sleep in the laundry or even on your bed: start now as you plan to continue. It’s a lot easier for the dogs if they have clear criteria from the get-go than to change these around at a later stage.
Once you’ve worked out which behaviours are most important to you, you can start your training! With puppies, you need to keep the sessions incredibly short and make sure you always end on a positive note! Just a few repetitions a few times each day.
Why is puppy school important?
The critical period for socialisation in puppies is between 3 and 17 weeks of age. The experiences during this critical period of learning and development can influence and shape their behaviour well into adulthood. Considering the vast majority of that is spent with their mum and litter-mates, you need to work hard in the remaining few weeks to expose your puppy to as many different and positive experiences as possible. This includes; new places, people, smells, sounds, textures of food and flooring, animals, children and more!
Puppy school will give your dog important socialisation opportunities, as well as making sure you’re doing everything right when it comes to training. The trainers will be able to support you and help you through any challenges you might be having with your puppy. These periods can often include teething, biting, and barking- so working with a qualified trainer will help to decrease these behaviours and replace them with more positive outlets- or can prevent them from occurring in the first place!
Even though puppies are not fully vaccinated until between 12 and 18 weeks of age, it’s still crucial to socialise them as much as possible at this time. This may mean carrying them while you walk down a busy street, sitting on a park bench and watching the world go by, going for a car ride, inviting your friends fully vaccinated dog over for a play date, pushing them in a clean trolley through bunnings (avoiding pats from strangers). There are so many things you can do to help expose your puppy to the world in a safe manner during their critical period.
Things to look for when choosing a puppy pre-school
- Ensure it is run by qualified behaviour professionals. This means a qualified dog trainer.
- Ensure they use positive reinforcement techniques and avoid any who subscribe to the outdated dominance theory, check chains or ‘alpha rolls’
- Be sure it is held in a secure and clean environment – this is especially important if your puppy has not had all its vaccinations yet.
- Whilst socialisation with other dogs is important, puppy school should be teaching many skills and should not just be a free-for-all play session.
- Find one that teaches the skills you need help with most – like toilet training, crate training, prevention of resource guarding, impulse control etc.
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