As a professional trainer the questions around puppy training and puppy socialisation always start flowing as soon as people hear what I do. This made me decide to write this article in a simple common sense fashion aimed at individuals who are looking for a puppy or who has a new puppy.
Living with a puppy can be extremely rewarding or extremely frustrating depending on various factors of which the most important is puppy training and puppy socialisation. Educating yourself and your family before getting a puppy goes a long way to determine if your journey is going to be rewarding or frustrating.
So when should puppy socialisation start and how long does it take?
From day 1 for the rest of the puppy’s life, although the most crucial period is the first 12 weeks, particularly week 8 to 12. During this time it is crucial that your pup gets exposed to as many people as possible in all shapes and sizes, from men and children to granny’s and woman. All these interactions should be supervised by the owner, and they all need to be positive. Puppies being so cute and cuddly makes this a very easy task, since few people can resist a cute little bundle of joy.
What about puppy school?
Puppy school is important to socialise your pup with other dogs and to teach them the very important lesson of bite inhibition, but your first priority should always be to socialise your pup with people.
What about puppy training, when should it start, how do I get a good trainer and how long does it last ?
Puppy training should start from day 1; waiting to start training makes no sense as this just increases the likelihood of your pup establishing bad habits. This will not be the pups fault as it is your responsibility to teach him the rules. Puppy training at home will include basics such as; house training, appropriate chewing, bite inhibition, feeding routines and basic lure and reward training.
When looking for a trainer, and call me biased if you must, but generally you’d do well steering clear of any puppy trainer saying things like: pack leader, dominance or talking about wolf packs – The reasons for this is the topic for a different discussions, but avoidance of this type of talk will generally be good for you and your pup.
Instead look for trainers who talk about positive reinforcement, classical condition, clicker training or marker training to name a few. If you hear some or all of the aforementioned examples you should be on your way to train your pup in a fun and positive manner.
This series will continue with a bit more detail puppy training techniques and tips and easy socialisation tips.
Below is a short video clip by Dr Ian Dunbar on the topic of puppy training and socialisation.