Firstly, Congratulations! There is certainly nothing more fulfilling and rewarding than dog ownership!
Having a new fluffy companion is all very exciting but it can also be overwhelming, particularly if you’ve never owned a dog before. It is likely you find yourself inundated with advice from friends, even your aunt Marie is suddenly a dog whisperer and giving dog training tips!
One of the blessings with the internet is that there is no shortage of information/resources online to help with this. However, like with fake news, there is no control of this content so always be careful that the methods you choose are both kind and effective. You will find yourself frantically searching through google…how to toilet train my puppy, my puppy keeps biting what should I do, my puppy chews everything how do I stop this. How to stop my dog jumping up… etc.
Yes, these are all very significant dog training issues and concerns for new doggy parents. However, the single most important thing you need to do RIGHT NOW with your new puppies is to socialise them. Dogs should be well socialised before they reach 16 weeks, sooner in some of the larger breeds. Why I hear you cry? After this age they start to develop a natural fear period, where they become cautious and more worried to novel experience, which they will keep with them their adult life. Improper, and lack of, socialisation is the single most common cause for behaviour problems in dogs. Puppies should receive effective socialisation before they are fully vaccinated and it should start as soon as they are born. This puts a lot of emphasis on the breeder, which is why it is so important to do your research and background checks! But what should you do once you get them home?
Puppy socialisation has become a buzz word in dog training circles. This does not mean you throw your new addition into the deep end and expose them to everything and anything in a blasé manner. Appropriate socialisation is done carefully and safely with lots of positive associations and interactions to the real world. Our aim is to build confidence by exposing them to lots of different environmental stimuli, for example this should include exposure and learning to interact with all types of people, children, other dogs and animals, noises, different places, being handled etc. These are just the main ones or I would be here all day listing them (have a look at the full socialisation checklist on our training tips page)! During these interactions make sure that they are positive expereincea and ensure they do not become overly stressed or fearful! As much as socialisation is essential in your puppy’s development, it is also important that you do this carefully! Uncontrolled play sessions and introductions with over boisterous dogs can result in your pet being fearful and associated in later life with dog behavioural problems.
This is where attending a good puppy training class is vital! It will set you and your dog up for success! They gives you all the life skills needed as a dog owner and it provides a safe and controlled environment for your dog to learn and interact with humans and other dogs. When looking for a trainer make sure that they are a “force free” trainer and do not use any punitive or aversive methods.