Part 6 - Socialising the Puppy

John is an extremely experienced member and trainer of Gun Dogs. Hints, tips and general advice can be found in here which will build into an extremely useful souce of informatation

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LabRes1
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Part 6 - Socialising the Puppy

Post by LabRes1 » 14 Sep 2007, 19:52

PART SIX

Socialising the puppy.

This is possibly the most important job for you with a young puppy. It starts literally as soon as your puppy arrives home. The more he sees and hears at this time the less strange noises and sights will affect him in the future.

While still small and before my puppy’s have had their inoculations I carry them out to the pavement to see the traffic and people passing by. There is a seat on some grass in front of some shops so is the ideal spot for comings and goings. Carrying them means that there is no risk of picking up any infection. By the time they are able to go on their first walk the big outside carries no surprises.

By the time the puppies have had their inoculations socialisation can really get started. Don’t go anywhere to busy or noisy to start with, gradually build it up. Remember that too much walking is out so plan your socialising trips with care. Just start by carrying your puppy twenty or thirty yards along the road, putting him on the ground and walking him back home. Assuming that went off ok then the next time you can try walking from the house! The second time Anna went out I put her in the car and took her to the local industrial estate. It was a quiet Sunday afternoon and I walked her into a long narrow footpath between some factories and let her off of the lead for a little free running. With a friend well along the footpath and me behind her she could not get away even if she wanted to! In fact at that age the only thing a puppy knows is you so they are not likely to venture too far away. Call your puppy back when it has trotted a little way away, bend down and make a big fuss of it then release it again. Do this several times on the walk and when you have finished the walk and want to put the lead on call the puppy in exactly the same way. To your puppy it is just another recall and does not signify the end of the walk! I take a toy with me. A rope “Tugger” is ideal and play with my puppy with it. Right from the start I’m aiming at making the area around me the most interesting place. Keep all the walks short at this stage, 10 minutes is plenty! It is unlikely at this stage that your puppy will be trying to take you for a walk! Far more likely the problem will be the opposite. Try not to drag your puppy at this time, talk to it in a confident manner, tell it not to be so silly, anything in fact which sounds confident! If you make a big thing out of it then your puppy will start to believe there really is something to worry about.

As confidence grows so a puppy starts to be impatient to see around the next corner and this is the stage where if you are not careful the pulling on the lead will start. You have not had that trouble up until now so don’t accept that kind of behaviour. Preventing something from starting is so much easier than stopping it once it has become a habit. The instant the puppy starts to move in front, STOP! Draw the puppy back to you with a firm “NO” then give the command “Heel” and start walking again. Never move with the puppy in front! An even firmer correction if needed is to turn at 90 degrees across in front of the puppy. It is making the point that humans lead and puppies follow!

As I said at the start, the more a puppy sees the better. As some of you know, I work my dogs so it is essential they are bomb proof around livestock but even a pet dog needs to know not to chase. You never know when out just when you might see a horse rider and if it is all familiar to your dog then a potential nasty event is averted. I deliberately take my puppies to places where they can see horses, cattle and sheep. I keep them on the lead, sit them up and let them quietly watch. I start playing with the puppy so that although the cattle is there the puppy is taking no notice of them. The aim is to make them become just another thing around, just as a bush or tree! The problem for most people is finding somewhere where they can meet other animals. The average farmer is not going to be happy to see you in a field with a sheep in with a dog! I took Anna to a little Exemption show when she was around 14 weeks old. She spent most of the time asleep on my lap but there was a little gymkhana, a hawk display, terrier racing and even some roundabouts. A marvellous socialising event!

A trip into town is good. Try to find somewhere to park near to “Where it’s all happening” so the puppy does not have to walk too far and also where it is easy to quickly return to the car. Make the trip short at first then return home.

Always give a puppy time to think about the good things which have happened but never give time for him to worry about the bad! Socialising a puppy is not a race. Your aim is to show him that there is nothing going to harm him, not to scare the living daylights out of him! Start very easy and gradually bring in noisier and more scary things as his confidence grows. Remember, puppies follow our lead and if we approach everything with confidence the chances are so will our dog.

Next time, at start to training.

Regards, John

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Post by Glenys » 14 Sep 2007, 20:53

This is excellent information written for our rescue by John Weller to share with people especially if you are looking to own a dog for the first time or to help with any training you may need with an existing dog.

Also do not forget to ask if there are any questions you would like to put to John in particular I am sure he would be able to advise.

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