Puppies from the same breed, same age or from the same litter can have very different lifestyles and temperaments when raised by different families. Some owners may wonder why their dogs are timid when other dogs can be so confident and socialable. Some may also wonder why their dogs cannot get along with other dogs or show aggression towards strangers. What do dog owners need to do in order to raise a happy and socialable puppy?
Socialization and puppy training are the foundation of dog training. Puppyhood is the most important and critical time in your dog’s development. What you do and do not do right in their puppyhood will affect your dog’s behavior forever.
In general, socialization period lasts up to about 12 – 16 weeks (3-4 months) of age. After 12 weeks, the puppy must continue socialization to refine its social skills. Introduce the puppy with different noises, people, animals, machineries, and environment. Start by small increment and make sure that each event is pleasant and non-threatening. Socialization easily occurs before the puppy is 3 months old. Any later than that and it is much more difficult and time-consuming that very few owners have the time, energy, money or patience to cope with.
A well-socialized puppy is confident and makes a good companion. He/she is neither frightened by, nor aggressive towards anyone or anything it would normally meet in day to day living. On the other hand, an un-socialized dog is not trustworthy. He/she then becomes an unwanted liability and may turn into fear-biters. You will often them fight with other dogs. Unsocialized dogs cannot adapt to new situations. A simple routine like visiting the vet can be a nightmare not only for the dog itself, but for everyone who involved.
All dogs need physical exercise to release their energy. When dogs or puppies are full of energy, their minds are always in excited state, therefore they are much harder to control and train. Provide the puppy with adequate amount of physical exercise. When the puppy is tired, he/she is less likely to be destructive and/or misbehave. A calm and relaxed puppy is much easier to handle and train.
However, owners need to understand the puppy’s stamina, do not exercise and overheat them. Instead of taking the puppy out for a long walk, it is a good idea to take the puppy for 3-5 short walks a day.
Discipline, Boundaries and Rules
In the human society, we have discipline, boundaries and rules. For example, we have laws to comply, we have jobs or college to attend. Each day, when we get up, we know who we are, what we need to do and what we can’t do. Mother of the puppies starts training them from birth. The mother controls how they play, how far they travel and makes the puppies wait to be fed. When the puppies arrived their new homes and joined the human pack, we are taking over their mother’s role. Humans needs to provide the puppies with discipline, boundaries and rules. It is also the only way to build up our leadership. A dog without discipline feels lost and confused, he/she has no boundaries and limitations.
Discipline, for example: morning walk -> training time -> meal time -> nap time -> training time -> evening walk -> meal time -> sleep
Rules & boundaries, for example: no biting humans, no jumping on couch, no stealing food, no sleeping on beds with humans.
It is irresistable not to love or give affection to a small, cute and cuddly puppy. Physical touch such as cuddles or pads means a lot to the dogs, it is something that they need to earn for it. We can give affection to the puppy as much as we want but only at the right time. For example, we can give affection when the puppy is calm, relaxed, submissive or obeyed a command. This can reinforce the good behaviour. However, giving them affection at the wrong time is like rewarding for their bad behaviour. Never give them affection or give them cuddles when they are excited, fearful, anxious, dominant, growling, biting, whining, begging, barking or breaking a house rule. A typical scenario that we see all the time, the owner gives affection at the wrong: When the dog is scared or nervous, the owner picked up the dog, giving him cuddles and keep on telling him, ‘Oh no, you’re shaking. Its ok, I got you, you’re safe now.’ This is rewarding the dog for being nervous or anxious.
To conclude, socialise your puppy well, expose him/her to anything that you can think of.
And remember this sequence:
Discipline, boundaries and rules.