Week 1 to 4
The puppy has just been born, Mom will take care of the main needs at this point, She will need time to bond with her litter and won’t 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 cause stress, so very little human interaction is the best thing at this point.
During this period and whilst their eyes are still shut, you can influence the puppies experiences, by looking after mom, your presence and smells will be noticed by the puppies. If mom is happy with you stroking the puppies gently, then do so briefly. They can sense the pressure change in their little bodies, and they can smell you.
Textures & Smells
Once the puppy 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 sounds.
This will help eliminate fear and the puppy will gain 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 or fireworks, just so they can desensitise to the sounds.
As the puppy grows it will be more confident around the loud noises.
The puppy will want to explore their immediate area and will probably be everywhere they can get to.
You will need to make sure there are no hazards, like trailing wires, or sharp edges. Ensure they are in a controlled environment where 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 in their pen, introduce them to carpets, wooden and Tiled floors. If the puppy is entering other rooms then this must be supervised and they must not be left unattended.
Week 4 to 14
This is the time when social learning is critical,
the puppy should now be used to humans and needs as 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.
Checking ears and eyes, so they get used to being handled by you and different people.
Opening the mouth to check teeth is another good practice.
This will all help when it is time to introduce them to the Vet.
When the puppy is vaccinated introducing your pup to other dogs is important. Introductions should be done in a controlled environment, This is of paramount importance, you don’t want to give your puppy a bad experience at such a young age.
A puppy may not be Vaccinated until around 9 months onwards. The puppy 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 of action.
Puppy Classes are a good way of socialising your puppy, but please make sure it is a reputable class with only a small group of around 4-6 pups.
Traffic and the outside world
As you start to walk outside with your puppy on a lead, you must slowly and calmly introduce them to traffic, such as bikes, buses, pushchairs.
You sometimes see dogs who snap and struggle to get free from a lead if a large sided vehicle comes passed. Desensitising your puppy to these things will avoid a situation like that in later years.
Flooding your puppy with sounds and sights which are scary is not going to help this matter. Don’t take your puppy to a busy junction and stand at the edge of the kerb, this will be a very negative experience and your puppy may never recover from it, thus creating many unwanted behaviours.
Desensitise 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 high sided vehicle, which could be a tractor or an HGV to me and you.
Doing this periodically will help the puppy acclimatise to their surroundings.
Taking him for a drive in the car as long as he is secure and safe inside the car. This may help him see the traffic close up and he will be able to travel in the car without trauma.
Inside the Home
Not forgetting the simple household things that are used nearly every day. The Hoover and washing machine needs to be taken into consideration.
It really is anything and everything at this point, including his collar, lead harness. Everything your dog is introduced to must have a positive outcome.
Things can sometimes, not, go according to plan, this is life, but as long as we recognise when the puppy 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 puppy, he needs to play and enjoy himself as well.
Short sessions, always ending with an exercise he can perform well, sit, for instance.
As long as the puppy is set up to succeed at the end of each session the whole lesson experience will be positive and rewarding, the dog will eventually become habituated to it.