Socialization Deconstructed

 

This is a black and white hand drawn sketch of a mind map about puppy socialization deconstructed. There is a puppy head (with the title your puppy) in the middle, surrounded by 5 think bubbles: When - age 0 to 16 weeks; What - Early exposure to oodles of people and experiences; Why - After 16 weeks of age the opportunity is gone. Fallout = Stress. Afraid of things. Compelled to bite or run away from the scary things; Where - Everywhere, Everyone, Everything; How - Pair introductions with something your puppy loves: Food + Toys

Mind Map

“I’m So Confused”

There is a great deal of confusion surrounding the term socialization and what it means for a puppy. The term comes from the description of specific stages of canine development. A pup goes through two socialization periods. In the primary socialization period they learn how to be a dog, in the human socialization period they learn how to navigate our complex world and everything in it. Combined, these development stages comprise only about 10 weeks; starting at about 3 weeks and ending at about 14 weeks of age. What happens or doesn’t happen during this time has a lasting effect on a puppy.

What Socialization is NOT

• A pup on leash meeting other dogs on leash.

• A puppy getting pets from the neighbor while you stand back and watch.

• A puppy sequestered in the house or yard until he has all his shots.

What’s The Big Deal?

Lacking a comprehensive understanding about this stage of development can literally make or break the quality of your dog’s life. If a puppy misses out on lots of positive early introductions during this time, serious behavioral issues are likely to develop. It’s crucial to have a robust game plan. You must be organized and strategic. Use our Social Schedule to stay on track, and use the Field Trip Worksheet to think critically about your outings. During this time social expeditions must be part of your daily routine.

Continued Reading

Giving Puppies Extra Socialization Is Beneficial To Them

Socialization and Vaccinations Belong Together

Count Down to Puppy – Part 3 of 3

A young boy and his jack russell puppy stand side by side looking stage right. They are both wearing red caps that are flying behind them. The boy is also wearing a red mask. All to help promote the https://www.ultimatepuppy.com/2018/03/count-down-to-puppy-part-1-of-3/ series

A New Life Together

This final instalment of our series we’ll get you ready for the car ride home and walk you through what to expect in the early days. We will provide links that show fun things to do. It is important to do these exercises with your puppy, as they learn best before 16 weeks of age. Take advantage of this time to get them used to their environment (“socialization”). This is top priority.

Car Ride Home

Pull quote: Creating a positive first encounter with all the new experiences your puppy has is important. ultimatepuppy.comCreating a positive first encounter with all the new experiences your puppy has is important. Be prepared and think about all new encounters. Make sure you have treats and a couple of toys with you when you go pick up your puppy.

Your pup may stressed.

This may be the very first time pup is separated from littermates and mom. Your puppy may never have worn a harness or collar or experienced a leash. There will now be lots of firsts.

If possible hold the pup during the car ride home. Take a partner so someone can hold the pup during the drive. A crate can be used too if that is your preference. Depending on the length of the trip you may need to alternate between crate and holding the pup.

Supplies to bring

•  A blanket or towel for the seat or your lap

•  Paper towel – poo bags

•  Water and a water bowl

•  Harness, collar, leash

•  A variety of food treats

•  Bring a few options for the pup to chew on too – bullies are a good bet

You will need to stop along the way for a bathroom break. Use a word or phrase that will become the pup’s elimination cue, like “show me”, “do the business”… you get the idea. Be sure and treat the puppy for going.

Arrival Home

Take pup directly to the chosen bathroom spot immediately upon arriving home, even before the pup goes into the house for the first time. Keep pup on leash. Be prepared with a treat if the pup goes.

Honeymoon Period

There is a honeymoon period for the first week or so when you bring a new pup home. Your puppy may be quiet, more placid, and not very nippy. He is dealing with a lot of newness. As he acclimates to his new home he will start to change. You will know when the honeymoon is over.

Dealing with Barking or Whining in the Crate

Ignore it. As hard as it can be ignoring the barking is the best approach. Any talking to the pup, cooing or letting the pup out will just make the process longer. Expect a day or two of barking and or whining and expect it to get loud. It’s a bonus and a small miracle if it doesn’t get loud. Be prepared with lots of good things for the pup to chew on in the crate – always toss a few treats in the crate every time your pup goes in. Keep a jar of treats on top of the crate, this way you are always prepared.

Get A Rhythm Going

It is nice to do the introduction to your home on leash. Take the pup around so he knows about his new environment.

Provide lots of bathroom breaks to the chosen spot. Every 15 – 20 minutes if the pup is out of the crate.

Remember 100% supervision. No free time unless you are there and paying attention.

Tips for the First Night

Expect some sleep deprivation.

Set an alarm to get up for bathroom breaks. Take the pup on leash, use your verbal cue, reward.
You may want to keep the crate in the bedroom so pup feels safe and knows you’re near by.

Tips for the First WeekPull quote. Go beyond the home, get out of the house.

If you work at home or have taken some time off from work, make sure the pup gets some time alone in the home. You want him prepared for spending some time alone when you need a break and for your eventual return to work. There should be no big hellos and good byes. Just get out of the house and leave pup alone for an hour or two in the crate. He needs to learn that your coming and going is normal.

100% Supervision

There should be zero unattended time outside the crate. This is lethal for a new puppy. It is much easier to prevent annoying behavior than it is to change it. Think prevention versus cure.

Pups need lots of sleep, lots of quiet time. Lots of crate time.

Keep the leash on in the house to help with management of your pup. Have lots of chews available for your pup to chew on.

Be proactive and set your pup up to succeed. Build good habits from day one with structure, training, playing, exploring, the crate, etc.

Socialization Checklist and Field Trip Worksheets

Here are two handy sheets for you to use for early introductions, aka socialization.

Socialization Field Trip Worksheet

A Social Schedule

Your puppy should be meeting lots of new people and getting treats from everyone.

Take walks through the neighborhood, don’t worry if you carry the puppy a lot in the beginning this is fine, fun and normal.

Make sure you have your treat pouch full of a variety of tasty, soft treats that your pup loves.

Plan a couple of socialization field trips in advance that you will do during the first week. Book a fun vet visit. Ensuring a variety of new experiences is essential. Go beyond the home, get out of the house.

Games and Training

There are lots of fun games and new behaviors to teach your puppy. Keep sessions short, reward all the behaviors you want to see more of.

Patience & A Sense of Humor

Note for fridge. There are two things we want you to always keep in mind as you raise this puppy. Patience and a sense of humor; write this on a piece of paper and put it on the refrigerator.

There are two things we want you to always keep in mind as you raise this puppy. Patience and a sense of humor; write this on a piece of paper and stick it on the refrigerator.

 

Here’s to all the adventures that await you and your dog.

Count Down to Puppy – Part 2 of 3

In this image a very young girl is being coached by her vet to listen to the heartbeat of her labradoodle puppy while her brother watches while standing beside her.

It Takes a Village

Part two of our series is designed to help you build the support group that you will need when you bring your pup home.

Find a Low Stress, Fear Free Vet

Why is this important? Imagine a scenario where you are working diligently to raise a relaxed, confident dog. Then you take him to a vet clinic that creates a situation, where all the new experiences cause him high levels of stress, anxiety and fear. It’s not uncommon for pets to become wary of being poked and prodded. Finding an animal clinic that uses a low stress, fear free approach will help ensure this doesn’t happen.

 

This is an image of an 8-week-old puppy laying upside-down on a weight scale. The picture is taken from above and the puppy is looking up at the viewer. https://www.ultimatepuppy.com/2018/03/count-down-to-puppy-part-1-of-3/

 

Reserve a Spot in Class

Spring usually is the optimal time to get a puppy. It allows you lots of outdoor time instead of being cooped up in the house over winter. Puppy classes fill up quickly so it’s prudent to reserve a spot early. A well-run class is the best possible place to socialize your puppy to other puppies. Do your homework and choose a professional dog trainer. We offer training tips to help keep you on track in-between puppy classes. Be sure to sign up. If the school offers pre puppy consultations take advantage of them.

Prime Yourself

pull quote reads: When issues arise, it’s “oh, right I remember reading about this… and I know what to do.”It’s been proven time and again. People who read up on early training are far less panicked once they get their puppy and more likely to be successful. When issues arise, it’s “oh, right I remember reading about this… and I know what to do.” This is what our site is for. We usually tell people to start with the Development Chart. It’s fun to look up what stage your pup is at. You can do that or go straight to Getting Started or How Dogs Learn and take it from there. Read a little bit everyday. It helps pass the time until your puppy is ready to come home.

A Support System

An eight-week-old puppy needs to go outside to the bathroom approximately every two hours. As the puppy grows, this time period will lengthen. This chart will help you gauge how long your pup can hold it.

If you have to be out of the house for extended periods, you can’t leave a young puppy alone for long stretches. You may consider enlisting a service that can help with this while you are at work. Do your due diligence when selecting such a service, or ask a trusted friend.

What is Available? What is Appropriate?

Pull quote reads: Be clear on the organization’s qualifications including certification, first aid training, and their training philosophies.Ensure that the services you select for your dog match your own values.

Doggie day care, dog walkers, and dog sitters are some of the services that you can enlist. If you consider one of these services make sure that all your hard work is not undermined by an outfit that is not “socialization” or “early puppy training” savvy. Be clear on the organization’s qualifications including certification, first aid training, and their training philosophies. Force-free methods and positive reinforcement are key.

Stay Tuned

In Part 3 it’s time to go pick up your puppy. We’ll get you ready for the drive home and what to prepare for in the days ahead.

Count Down to Puppy – Part 1 of 3

An 8 week old Huskie puppy lies to the right of an alarm clock. His nose resting up against the clock.

Pre Puppy Preparation

New puppy on the way! Yahoo! You are probably feeling excitement mixed with some nervousness. This is completely natural. This three part series will help you organize your pre-puppy preparation, resources and support system. It will also help you navigate your pup’s homecoming and your first week together.

Toys, Treats and Supplies

this is a pull quote which reads: Focus on toys to stuff and appropriate things to chewOver time and with test runs you will learn your pup’s preferences for toys and treats. Use your imagination as you build your toy and treat arsenal. Remember that pups love variety. In the meantime there are a few essentials that you will need pre-puppy. Focus on toys to stuff and appropriate things to chew in the crate. You will also need a couple of toys to play tug and retrieve with. Food stuffed toys should be easy for a puppy to use. Too difficult and the pup will give up. Check out West Paw Toppl Toy for an easy beginner toy.

Crate Location

Kitchens or family rooms are usually good bets for crate locations. Avoid high traffic locations such as next to the front door. Pup should not be able to see outside the house when in the crate, as the view will stimulate him and he is supposed to be “at rest”. The crate should not be placed in an unlived area of the house such as a guest room or basement; your puppy should not feel banished and should be comfortable with normal household activity.

Having a couple of crates is a good option. A crate in the bedroom, living room and kitchen if you have the space ensures that there is always a prepared place to keep pup safe and provide the all-important structure that a new puppy needs.

Wire crates can be draped with a towel or blanket to increase the cozy factor and help reduce visibility when needed.

Use non-plush bedding in the pup’s crate to start. Your puppy may be enticed to chew it or use it as an absorbent spot to pee. Monitor any bedding for pee accidents and remove immediately as you are teaching the puppy to go outdoors.

Puppy Elimination Zone

Decide on a spot before the pup comes home. You want to take the pup to this spot immediately upon arriving home for the first time. This is the spot that you will take pup out (on leash) to pee and poo–sod can be used if there is no lawn. Pee pads or other pre-fab elimination areas sold at pet supply stores are an option for condo dwellers far from an outside spot. Read up on house training.

Accidents Will Happen

Be prepared with a good enzymatic cleaner. Orange Apeel, Skout’s Honor and Nature’s Miracle being a few of the products available for the task. Skout’s Honor is a favourite.

Find A Trusted Neighbourhood Pet Supply Store

Think about what you will feed your new pup. There are lots of options beyond kibble. Prime yourself on nutrition by subscribing to the Whole Dog Journal. They are a great resource for this. Then go look for a pet supply store so you can discuss your options with them. A good shop will have keen knowledgeable staff eager to talk with you about your pup’s nutrition. Better choices in food will make all the difference in your pup’s health both short term and, most importantly, long term.

Stay Tuned for Part 2

In our next post we’ll discuss lining up a support system, finding a vet, reserving a spot in a class and priming you with the right training knowledge. All of this will make you comfortable with what to expect with your new puppy.

 

3 Simple Games to Play on The Move

A white and black puppy is staring upwards while standing between and woman’s legs, with it's paws on her feet. Clearing looking up at her face.

Moves on the go!

Teach your puppy watch, touch and a rock solid recall and hone these moves as you go on outings together. All of these behaviours have something in common. They reorient the pup back to you. This is helpful for building attention or asking for attention from your dog when you need it. On the go is a perfect time to perfect your pup’s moves. You have built-in distractions from mild, moderate and more. You can decide when and where your pup is ready for practice.

Adventures that present you with opportunities to play these games may range from hikes, walks in your hood, or errands in your hood while you are waiting with your pup for your shopping partner to return, romping on the beach, long-line park play or even while you are waiting for the light to change on a city street corner.

As with all of the behaviors you teach your pup, start at home in a distraction free zone, add distractions then take it on the road.

These are simple, fun, practical moves. With your pup proficient in these behaviors you will come to rely on them over and over again in lots of situations.

Watch

What’s not to love about the ability to get your pup to give you attention when you ask? There are so many situations where this cue will come in handy. Once you’ve got your dog’s attention that is when you are able to communicate in a clear way. You many want to get your pup to move in a different direction, to get him to look away from trash on the street, to pay attention to some training or a game or just for fun and a chance to pay him.

The goal behaviour is that your pup looks at your face, into your eyes, when you cue him to watch.

How to Teach Watch

1.  Use a clicker or verbal marker.

2.  Count out 30 treats. (soft, tiny and yummy to your pup)

Tip

Use a counter, table or ledge to keep your treats on. Between treats keep your hands still, at your belly button or on your lap, so your pup doesn’t get distracted and focus on your hands. We want him looking into your eyes.

3.  Set a timer for 2 minutes.

4   When your pup looks at you click and treat or say ‘Yes’ or ‘Good’ and treat.

5.  Practice this a few times per day

6.  When your pup is consistently looking at you add a verbal cue such as ‘watch’ or ‘look’ just before he looks up.

Tips

For a tiny pup it is sometimes easier to start this game while you are sitting on the floor.

If your pup isn’t offering you the behavior you can prompt him with a cluck or a kissing sound for a couple of repetitions to get the behavior started.

7.  Add distractions. Keep in mind you want your pup to look at you no matter what the distraction. When you are adding distractions go slow and steady. Build on previous successes.

Tip – distraction ideas

•  Stand with your arms open wide and wiggle your fingers.

•  Stand with your foot on a squeaky toy, give it one little squeak.

•  Build towards repetitive squeaks.

•  Have someone walk through the room.

•  Have someone bounce a ball from a safe distance away.

When you feel like the behavior is on cue with your distractions added it’s time to practice in public.

 

On the left a lab puppy is sitting facing a woman on the right. The labrador has his right paw up in the air touching the woman's right hand which is also coming out to meet his paw. Basically they are high fiving each other.

Touch

Teaching your pup to touch your hand with his nose is helpful for many reasons. It gives you a way to move the pup around hands-free (as in you don’t have to manhandle your dog into position). It can help redirect your puppy back to you. You can use your hand as a target to teach your dog how to sit, down and stand. You can use it to teach your pup to greet new people by having him touch the back of a person’s hand, very helpful for shy dogs and this can help redirect a jumping puppy. Your vet will be glad because it can come in handy there as well. You can practice recall between two people having the dog target each person’s hand. It is the foundation behaviour for more advanced targeting behaviours. It is fun.

The goal behaviour is that your pup touches the palm of your open hand with his nose when you ask him to ‘touch’.

How to Teach Touch

1.  Using a clicker or verbal marker

2.  Count out 30 treats.

3.  Set a timer for 2 minutes.

4.  Present your open hand, with your palm facing the pup, directly in front of the pup’s nose. Just a short distance of even a half-inch away from the pup’s nose for the first few repetitions.

5.  The dog’s natural inclination will be to sniff your hand.

6.  Click and treat or say ‘Good’ or ‘Yes’ and treat.

7.  As your pup progresses move your hand a little to the right and to the left.

8.  Gradually increase the distance you present your hand from.

9.  When your puppy is reliably touching your open palm on cue add your verbal cue ‘touch’.

10.    Try getting the pup to follow your open hand.

11.    Add some distractions.

12.    With the behavior on cue around your distractions it’s time to practice in public.

Recall

The benefits of being able to call your dog are many. A reliable recall is indispensable. There are some important factors to keep in mind when you are teaching your puppy to come on cue every time you call. Two of these considerations are to only call your puppy when you know they will, for certain, come to you. Always reinforce your puppy for coming. This means call them and give them what they love. This could be really good food or a quick round of their favourite game.

Calling your pup to come while on leash or a long line is practical, fun and effective. You will be confident that he will come since he is on leash. You are present ‘in the zone’ so you will be prepared with appropriate DOGPAY*, whatever that looks like for your pup. For recall it should be triple scale! If you are on a 6-foot leash you will be speedy so the amount of repetitions and opportunities to reinforce are plentiful. This is a winning combination for your pup’s education.

Playing ‘come to me’ on Leash or Long Line

1.  Using a clicker or verbal marker.

2.  Move to the end of your leash.

3.  Call your puppy to come.

4.  When he gets to you click and treat or say ‘Yes’ or ‘Good’ and treat.

5.  Repeat often.

Variations of this Game

One: Move to the end of your leash, call your puppy to come, as he gets there toss the treat past you and move off in the opposite direction.

Repeat.

Two: Move to the end of your leash, call your puppy to come, toss a handful of treats into the grass and your pup gets reinforced with a fun round a find it.

Run, Call, Reinforce

A fun game is to run a few steps, call your pup and treat. You can do 10 repetitions of this in a really short period of time. Lots of repetitions in a short period of time helps your puppy learn new behaviours more quickly. Lots of repetitions also mean lots of reinforcement, which is another factor in how quickly pup learns.

This is exactly what it sounds like. You run just a few steps, call your pup in an excited happy voice, reinforce quickly with food and or a game of tug.

Repeat.

The beauty of this game is the chase followed by the fast DOGPAY*. It is doubly reinforcing for your pup.

Tips

If your pup won’t come to you try kneeling down or use a squeaky toy, or make a kissing sound.

Is your puppy stressed? Is the distraction level too high?

Is your DOGPAY* high enough for this job?

Sometimes just a simple back and forth between you and your pup can be grounding and stress reducing for one or both of you. Having the ability to go into a simple game mode in a time of stress can change the emotions back to a place of calm.

These are just a few examples of simple, fast games you can play with your puppy while you are out and about. The main objective here is that you teach and PLAY; that your time spent together out and about is dynamic, interesting and creative. If you take the time to teach your puppy fun and useful things to do you will have a beautiful connection and a line of communication that is unbeatable. Get creative; make up your own games. We would love to hear about how you are teaching your puppy to be with you while you are out and about.

*DOGPAY is the food, treat or other positive reinforcement you award your dog with for their attention and efforts. Remember, dogs don’t work for free.