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A dog’s life: puppy training and socialisation

By Bruce Casalis
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puppy training puppy socialisation Dogs Trust Dog School doggy daycare

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You’ve brought your new puppy home and they’re settling in well. Now it’s time for some more advanced training to begin, and in particular socialisation.

Once your puppy has reached a few months old they are ready to increase their learning. This includes meeting new people and other dogs. After all, a social dog is a safe dog. Understanding the doggy etiquette of mixing with their own kind ensures your puppy knows what is and isn’t acceptable. It also makes for safer dog handling for the owner.

At doggy day care, we take puppies from 12 weeks old. They have their own special nursery area where only other puppies are allowed, and the carer to dog ratio is high so they receive lots of attention. We also provide comfy beds and quiet areas as puppies need to rest. Their bodies are still growing and developing and they mustn’t be over-exercised.

If you can create a similar environment at home it’s a good starting point. And do remember to take things slowly and be consistent; just like you would with a child.

You can also take your puppy to specialised puppy training classes on a regular, say weekly, basis. Dog School run by the Dogs Trust is a good place to start. The routine and getting them out and about is as good for their learning as the actual lessons themselves.

Whatever route you choose, here are our top five training tips.

1. Don’t start them too young, but don’t leave it too late – 12 to 16 weeks is ideal.

2. Take all initial introductions to other puppies and dogs slowly and make sure you are there throughout. If things aren’t going well you can stop things before they start. There’s always another day.

3. Reward good behaviour. If your puppy obeys and it’s going well, make a big fuss and give them an edible treat or a favourite toy. Puppies are smart and will soon make the association!

4. Discipline bad behaviour. Raising your voice and smacking is not the way to go. Instead use a calm deep tone – “no” – and then place them on their own for a short period of time to reflect. Again, they will soon make the association.

5. Have fun! Puppies are the proverbial sponge when it comes to learning. These are some of the best days of their (and your) life, so make sure you both enjoy yourselves.

Next time we discuss neutering.

This blog is part of a series focusing on a dog’s life from puppy to pensioner! Read about how to look after your dog - from agility and grooming to neutering and zoning out.

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