What are the Most Important Puppy Training Tips?
More often than not, when people first bring a puppy to puppy class, they have already introduced the cues of ‘sit’ and attention to their name. They might be coming to class for some puppy training tips on biting, toilet training and some other skills such as loose lead walking and recall. While these behaviours are important, if you ask us for our most important puppy training tip, it would be summarised in one word:
Best Puppy Training Tip: Socialisation is the foundation to a mentally well adjusted dog
Socialisation is not just teaching the dog to be comfortable and friendly around other dogs. Socialisation is about teaching the puppy that the world they live in is safe. Puppies have a critical window of socialisation where most things they encounter are classified as ‘safe’. So, during this period it is crucial to give our puppies as many safe encounters with their world as possible. For most breeds of dogs, this socialisation window starts rapidly closing at 12 weeks of age, and is mostly closed by 16 weeks of age.
What do I socialise my puppy to?
So I’ve mentioned the world, which is pretty broad. To figure out what to socialise your puppy to, sit down with all the people living with the dog and make a list of all of the different things you want to be able to do throughout the course of your puppy’s life.
Things that may be on your list could be to:
- go camping
- go to the beach
- have friends visit the house
- have renovations
- visit the vet
- feel comfortable in the presence of other dogs
- go to the groomers
- go to a cafe
- use a blender at home
- use the vacuum
- have children
- throw a party
The list above is just an example of some of the things that may be on your list. You may have also noticed that the list above includes things that the puppy may be directly involved in such as going to the vet, versus experiences that puppy may just be around, such as using the blender.
Don’t worry if you don’t get to all of the things on your list. However, if you are able to socialise your puppy to a wide range of sights, sounds, smells, surfaces and experiences, they are more likely to be resilient to encountering new experiences in the world.
How to socialise
- Always give your puppy choice to approach or move further away from the object.
- Pair the new item with something your puppy likes. For example, when the puppy sees the new item, they get a tasty treat.
- Deconstruct the new item so each part of the new item can be introduced individually. For example, socialising the puppy to the blender may involve firstly introducing the sight of the blender in one session, then the sound in another session, and then lastly once puppy has encountered both of these separate aspects and is comfortable, we can introduce the sight and sound combined. Remember, distance is always helpful when introducing a new component.
- Keep calm and relaxed if puppy gets a fright. Your puppy may refer to our body language and tone of voice if they are worried. So, if we look worried or scared in a situation, they may take this as confirmation that the new item is definitely scary because we also look scared.
Need some more puppy training tips?
We run classes specifically for puppies where we focus on socialisation and other basic behaviours. For more information about this course, click here.