Week 1 to 4
The pup has just been born, mom will take care of her main needs at this point, The mom needs time to bond with her litter and wont need much assistance from ourselves, Puppies are fragile little things and it is best to leave mom to it, picking up the small pups could stress mom so little human interaction is the best thing at this point.
However during this period and whlst there eyes are still shut, you can influence their experinces by looking after mom, your presence and smells will be notice, if mom is happy with you stroking the pups gently then do so briefly, so they can sense the pressure change in their little bodies, they can smell you.
Once the pup opens his eyes, he can see and hear you, he will want to explore more and at this point you should increase handling, it is a good time to introduce multiple human voices so they can get used to the sound and illiminate fear, gaining confidence around humans, it can be a good time to introduce background noises, opening the windows for sounds of traffic, low playing cd tapes of thunder, fireworks, just so they can desensitise to the sounds, this way the pup as it grows will be more confident around the loud noises,
The pups will want to explore there immediate area and will be probably be everywhere they can get to, so you need to make sure there are no hazards, like trailing wires, sharp edges, ensure they are in a controlled environment in which they cannot get into mischief and injure themselves. It is a good time to introduce toys, different textures and flooring, a piece of lino can be placed around there areas, carpet, wood floors, if the puppy is entering other rooms then this must be supervised and they must not be left unattended.
Mom will start to take time out and leave the pups alone for short periods this must be encouraged so that the pups are used to mom leaving and coming back, this will help with separation anxiety as the pup grows.
Week 4 to 14
This is the time when social learning is critical, the pup should now be used to humans and needs many positive introductions as possible, meeting children, babies, men, women, old people, This is a good time to introduce the dog to a grooming brush, also checking ears and eyes, so they get used to being handled by you and different people, opening the mouth to check teeth is another practise. This will all help when it time to introduce them to the vet.
When the pup is vaccinated introducing your pup to other dogs is important, doing this in controlled environment is of paramount importance. A dog may not be Vaccinated until around 9 months onwards, The pup will miss out on a lot of learning opportunities, but you can get a titre test and speak with your vet, who will advise the best course. Puppy Classes are a good way of socialising your pup, but please make sure it is a reputable class with only a small group of learners eg 4-6 pups.
As you start to walk outside with your pup on a lead, you must slowly and calmly introduce them to traffic, bikes, buses, pushchairs, You see dogs who snap and struggle to get free from a lead if a large sided vehicle comes passed, desensitising your pup to these things will avoid situation like that in later years.
Obviously flooding is not going to help this matter, so don’t take you pup to a busy junction and stand at the edge of the kerb, this will be a very negative experience for your pup and may never recover from it, creating many many unwanted behaviours and the pup will go into fight or flight, at such a young age, this is not what is needed.
I would suggest to do it from a distance, so that the noises can be heard but not to the point where the ground is vibrating under their feet, constantly reassure the dog at this time, food treats are a good thing to help make the situation into a more positive one, distracting his attention from the big scary noise and huge structure, which could be a tractor or a HGV to me and you, doing this periodically will help the pup acclimatise to it. Taking him for a drive in the car, as long has he is secure and safe inside the car, this may help him see traffic more close up and he will be able to travel in the car without trauma.
Also, not forgetting the simple household things that are used nearly every day, things like the hoover and washing machine need to be taken into consideration, it really is anything and everything at this point, including collar, lead, harness. Everything your dog is introduced to must have a positive outcome.
Obviously things can sometimes, not, go according to plan, this is life, but as long as we recognise when the dog is having a negative experience we can remove him from the situation and re-introduce him to it again later on.
At home the most basic things need to be thought about, feed times, food, toilet training, it’s a lot of work so a check sheet or daily schedule is a good idea, training doesn’t have to be time consuming and frustrating. Just take your time, and don’t put too many demands on the pup, he needs to play and enjoy himself as well. Short sessions, always ending with a excersise he can perform well, sit, for instance, as long as the dog is set up to succeed at the end of each session and the whole lesson experiences are positive and rewarding the dog will eventually become habituated to it.