Socialisation and Exposure
It is so important to expose your puppy to a wide variety of sights, sound and smells. Your puppy needs to have 100’s of new and positive experiences prior to 16 weeks of age.
Care is important for a healthy and well adjusted dog. Care is more than food and water. It is boundless love and nurturing. It is shelter, bedding, exercise, grooming, health checks, mental stimulation and training. It is giving your puppy as many positive experiences as you can arrange in the early weeks after adoption to desensitise his/her sensory system to cope with the hustle and bustle of every day life.
Training is essential
Training is commonly overlooked as an essential activity that comes with owning a dog however it is so important. Beyond commands such as sit and drop, responsible training includes equipping your puppy to cope in a variety of daily living environments. Fear is an instinctive reaction and without the correct socialisation and exposure, dogs often carry a fear for life.
Are you ready for puppyhood?
Prior to purchasing a puppy, families should consider whether they are in a position to provide a puppy with adequate socialisation experiences and can commit the time and financial resources for ongoing training.
The critical period time for a puppy is from 6 to 16 weeks. During this time puppies are in their optimal age period to be able to learn from new experiences.
Tips for exposing your puppy -
- Write a list of every potential object or experience your puppy could encounter over the first 12 months. This list is extensive! It covers machinery, objects with wheels such as bikes and prams. It includes appliances like hair dryers and vacuum cleaners . This list should also include introducing your puppy to different people:both males and females; the elderly and children. Your Labradoodle should also be given the opportunity to meet many different breeds of dogs, both large and small.
- Desensitise your puppy to loud noises by starting with exposing your puppy to sounds at a distance or low sounds then gradually allow the sound to become closer or more intense. Ensure your puppy is comfortable and is relatively calm (it is natural for your puppy to be attentive/interested).
- It is helpful to bring toys and treats to training. A game with toys can relieve stress and create a space of enjoyment. The most important aspect of exposure is that your puppy walks away from a situation with a positive experience.
- Your energy level and your own state of mind is also an important factor. Dogs read body signals so make sure you are relaxed and have an encouraging and confident disposition. You will have much more likelihood that both you and your puppy will have a positive experience in unfamiliar situations if you remain cool, calm and collected.
Tips for creating positive socialisation experiences
- Join a puppy school. Puppy Schools are a great introduction for your puppy to meet different breeds of dogs at a similar level of experience.
- Stay away from dog parks in the beginning. This tip may seem a little counter-intuitive however this tip is designed to prevent your puppy from having a negative experience. Dog parks are filled with numerous adult dogs. In addition, new puppy owners do not have enough control over the behaviour and social etiquette of the other dogs in this space. At this stage your puppy is learning how to interact and respect other dogs. It is very much throwing your puppy into the deep end and risking things going terribly wrong.
- Arrange with neighbours, friends and family to organise playdates with other dogs or puppies. It is important to supervise these interactions to ensure both your puppy and the other dog relate to each other using appropriate social behaviours.
- Walk your puppy. Puppies cannot go for long walks due to their age and stage of development however you can begin by picking a short route that will give your puppy the opportunity to meet new dogs in a controlled setting. You may choose to start passing dogs from across the road and then progress to passing dogs on the same footpath. Your puppy doesn’t have to directly meet and greet every dog. Getting your puppy comfortable with passing by another dog is important to prevent leash aggravation.
- Boundaries for your puppy are necessary. Family hierarchy also comes into play with this topic. Your equivalent to a dogs growl is your voice. A cold word (low pitched) such as “NO” conveys to your dog that something doesn't please you and also acts as a warning to correct a behaviour. It is extremely important that in contrast, a dog is rewarded for any wanted behaviour. A hot word (high pitched) such as “GOOD!” conveys that you are pleased with this. Reinforcements such as pats and treats are paired. Set your dog up to always have an option for success.
If you would be interested in assistance in further socialisation training with your puppy, please feel free to contact Briellen Ramsay at Blue Ribbon Dog Training.
Experiences the dog receives during the critical periods in development have a much more profound effect than at any other time. A dog that has had the right experiences early is far more prepared for everything in life”.Dr J.P Scott