Socialization is critical during puppy hood in order for our pups to grow up to be happy, well-adjusted adults. The critical socialization period is between 3 weeks and 3 months, during which time puppies are like little sponges, taking in what in the world around them is safe versus unsafe. It is absolutely essential that your puppy interact with new things, places, animals and people during this time in order for them to avoid developing fear issues (which can often lead to aggression) down the road.
With humans being forced to socially distance what does a responsible puppy owner do? Check out the tips below.
– Recruit friends, family and neighbors to help socialize your pup at the recommended distance. Using a standard leash the humans can remain 6 feet apart while your pup explores and interacts with the new human or dog
– Take your puppy to places you (and they) are allowed to go to watch the world go by at a distance. Try a pet store, set up a blanket or on a bench in the park in areas this is allowed (be sure to consult your vet on where you pup is with her shots before allowing her to sniff grassy areas other dogs frequent). Bring your pup a favorite chew and blanket so she associates new experiences with good things.
– Plan car rides to new places and hang out in the parking lot in your car so he can see a variety of new people, experience new noises etc.
– Introduce your puppy to novel objects at home. Think skateboards, balloons, loud noises (the vacuum, pots and pans clanking together, power tools), rolling suitcases, humans wearing hats, glasses and backpacks etc. Start with these items at a distance if your pup is wary and reward with meals, favorite treats and toys to create a positive association.
Remember to never force your puppy to interact with things she is wary of (this could make the problem worse). Instead be patient and keep it positive!
Struggling with socializing your puppy during these tough times? We can help! Bark to Basics offers drop in training where we can pick up your pup in a safe manner and take him out into the world. Contact us today for details!More
One of the most common questions I’m asked is how to get your dog to listen without the need for constant treats. The answer – implement an intermittent schedule of reinforcement (i.e. reward your dog randomly for things she has learned and understands).
To better understand this, think about a person at the slot machine of their favorite casino. Humans spend hours sitting there, putting in money and pulling the lever, without being rewarded with a payout, all because they know a payout is coming EVENTUALLY, even if not for them.
This is exactly the thinking we want to instill in your dog. She will follow your instructions even without a reward because she knows one is on the horizon, eventually.
Please note – when teaching new commands, consistency and repetition are key! So when you start “sit”, you will likely be rewarding every time to build a pattern with your dog that we really like this behavior, and there is something in it for him if he listens. Randomly rewarding is a tool we use down the road, when your dog understands the behavior you are asking for.
So how do you do it?
For commands your dog knows reliably well (think you ask him to “sit” ten times and he complies without hesitation at least eight of those ten times) begin to randomize the rewards. Some “sits” receive a treat, some receive praise or a pet. Better yet, mix in “life rewards” (walks, dinner, you tossing the ball one more time) for following that command.
It is important when doing this to go against our human instincts and not follow a set pattern of rewarding (humans are so predictable!). Rather then rewarding every other time your dog follows a command (pups catch on to this very quickly), mix it up, so he may get two rewards in a row, then not another for the following three commands.
And while you’re at it, get those treats out of your hands! When my client’s pups are responding well we move to putting treats around the house in various locations. Then, when we ask the pup to “down” and she complies, we praise and go to the nearest treat location for a reward. Now your pup is figuring out just because there isn’t anything in your hand does not necessarily mean no reward!
Try these tips to take your training to the next level, and have a more responsive pup, sans treats!More