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First things to teach your puppy

Bringing home a puppy can be super exciting and often we have all these plans about what we would like to teach them but no idea where to start.

Puppies can have a hard time transitioning from their first environment with their littermates to your home where they're suddenly on their own with a strange family. Whilst it's great to teach all the tricks and obedience cues like sit, down and paw, there are some key foundations and skills that are even more important.

  1. You are the source of all good things

The primary focus on your puppy's first few weeks with you is building a strong relationship so that you are a place of safety and security but also that you are Disneyland and all good things come from you.

Have fun with your puppy exploring new equipment and environments, new toys and puzzle feeders and ensure you are listening to your puppy's body language and ways of communicating. This book is a great resource to help you understand what your puppy is trying to tell you and how you can support your puppy in their development. Don't ever force your puppy to do something they aren't sure of, instead try and help them work through their concerns as this can help strengthen your relationship.

2. Crate training

Crate training is so useful for

- Ensuring your puppy's safety when you can't supervise them

- Enforcing nap times to help prevent biting and promote relaxed behaviours

- Help with successful toilet training and preventing destructive behaviours

- Getting your puppy used to confinement should they ever need to be admitted to the vets

And so much more!

The crate does not need to be used as a punishment, more a place of safety that your puppy can relax in.

3. Confidence in independence

For your puppy to feel confident in their own company, they must first feel secure in their environment with you. All of the above can help with this. Once they feel safe, you can start gradually increasing the time your puppy spends on their own in their crate, pen or room. This may mean that your puppy would prefer to sleep in the same room as you for their first few nights and then you can gradually move them or yourself further away.

We would also like your puppy to be confident in independent play so enrichment and puzzle feeders are great for this as long as you start easy and gradually increase the difficulty level. You can see my enrichment blog here for ideas.

4. Socialisation

Socialisation is a minefield but it is something you need to crack on with as your puppy's socialisation window closes around 14-16 weeks of age. The goal of socialisation is to expose your puppy to as many things as they might encounter in their adult life with emphasis on the quality of these interactions being as positive as possible. This doesn't mean your puppy needs to interact with as many people and dogs as possible as you can't always guarantee these interactions will remain positive but that they see these things and it’s paired with something they like eg. food or toy.

There is plenty of socialisation you can do before your puppy's second vaccination to build their resilience for when you start exposing them to things outside the house such as new flooring, noises, objects, smells and handling.

If your puppy seems nervous, avoidant or overstimulated in certain environments and around certain triggers then create some more distance and let your puppy watch things from afar whilst you pair it with their favourite treats.

There is a whole blog post on socialisation which you can read here.

5. Recall

When young, our puppies tend to have a strong desire to follow us around which makes building a strong recall quite easy. This is vital because in adolescence this desire disappears! You can find a more in-depth write up on recall here but here's a quick summary.

- Reward your puppy for checking in with you both on and off the lead inside and outside the house

- Throw a piece out of food for your puppy to go and collect as they collect it, say their name followed by your recall cue, run backwards a few steps with lots of excited noises and body language then reward your dog when they get to you with a game of tug or some high value food

- Have someone hold the puppy back gently whilst you run away with a toy or some food. When you would put money on your puppy coming back to you, call their name and have your helper release them. Lots of praise, play and food for coming back to you

Once these skills are in place, you can start to work on your more formal obedience and look to join a group class environment. Our services for puppies can be found here


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