Puppy Training 101 - All About People, Places, and Stuff

So I just got a new puppy and have never had a dog before in my life, not even as a little kid!  Are puppies different than dogs?  Where do I begin?

Isn't Wolfie cute?  How could he do anything bad or do anything that would be annoying.  The breeder said that all he wanted to do was to give me love and happiness!

Well, that is a wonderful thought, but we are now Wolfie's parents and as such, have a large responsibility to Wolfie to make him feel safe, loved, and part of our pack.  Puppies have additional training requirements than dogs that are two and three years old.  This is the first of several training blogs that will discuss training that is unique to these super cute "bundles of canine joy".

Today we are going to talk about "socialization" for Wolfie.  Simply stated, this is the act of getting him used to the environment around him.  That environment is made up of people, cars, the market, the vet hospital, strangers, other animals, the vacuum cleaner, and on and on and on.  Since he is a puppy, all these things are new to him and could easily frighten him.  What we must do is to put him in a situation where he can learn that all these things are fine and he should feel safe around them.

First, let's look at a partial list of things to consider:
  • People with...
    • Canes
    • Crutches
    • Wheelchairs
    • Baby Stroller
    • Shopping cart
    • Luggage
  • People doing...
    • Jogging
    • Working
    • Limping
    • Driving
    • Swimming
  • Home Environment
    • Phone ringing
    • Doorbell
    • Vacuum Cleaner
    • Dish Washer
    • Hair Dryer
    • Repair people
    • Pool Man
  • Environments
    • Vet Clinic
    • Car
    • Kennel
    • Groomer
    • Pet Store
    • Crowds
    • School
  • Vehicles
    • Motorcycles
    • Trucks
    • Cars
    • Bicycles
  • Sounds
    • Thunder
    • Fireworks
    • Loud Noise
    • Siren
These are just a few people, places, and stuff that, as a puppy, will be new to Wolfie.  Depending on Wolfie's temperament, he may or may not need socialization with one or all of them.  Now, let's discuss how we socialize.  I will give you two examples:

Vacuum Cleaner:  One of you will have Wolfie at one end of the house on a leash with some toys and/or goodies.  Another person will have the vacuum cleaner at the other end of the house on a long extension cord.  Turn the vacuum cleaner on while distracting Wolfie by giving slight tugs on the leash and playing with toys.  As you see that Wolfie is calm and giving you focus, slowly (and I mean slowly) move the vacuum cleaner closer to Wolfie.  Constantly keep Wolfie's focus on you and watch that he is not becoming pensive or timid.  If he is, stop the exercise and start again tomorrow, always trying to get closer until the vacuum cleaner is moving around in the room with Wolfie.

Car:  All we want to do is to make sure Wolfie is calm in the car.  We initially do this by having Wolfie sit in the car while it is in the driveway.  Have some toys and goodies for Wolfie while he and you are in the car.  Have the engine running and radio on. 

After a few days of this, back the car out of the driveway and drive around the block.  If this is going well, take Wolfie with you on longer trips to the store, school, park, etc.  If, at any time, he begins to become frightened, timid, or overly distracted, slow it down and back up one level.

Also, and this is very important, you must be sure that Wolfie is properly secured while in your car.  Get a harness for Wolfie.  When you put him in the car, take the seat belt and insert that through the harness, clicking it to secure the seat belt and Wolfie.  Wolfie can only ride in the back seat unless the passenger seat has a method to turn off the air bag.  Wolfie is never allowed to ride on your lap or in any manner that would allow him to stick any part of his body out the window.

Remember, the most important part of "socialization" is to get Wolfie used to the world around him at an early age.  Successfully accomplishing this will make him feel far safer and happier.  It will also make your life a lot easier.  For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.


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