SOCIALIZATION TIPS FOR PUPPY OWNERS
Even though dogs have been domesticated for thousands of years, each new puppy that comes into our world must learn about humans. Socialization is the process during which puppies develop positive relationships with other living beings. The most sensitive period for successful socialization is during the first three to four months of life. The experiences the pet has during this time will have a major influence on its developing personality and how well it gets along with people and other animals when it grows into adulthood. It is very important for puppies to have frequent, positive social experiences during these early months in order to prevent asocial behavior, fear, and biting. Puppies that are inadequately socialized may develop irreversible fears, leading to timidity or aggression. This is not to say that socialization is complete by four months of age, only that it should begin before that time. Continued exposure to a variety of people and other animals, as the pet grows and develops, is an essential part of maintaining good social skills. It is also extremely important that your new puppy be exposed to new environments and stimuli at this time (e.g., sounds, odors, locations) to reduce the fear of 'the unfamiliar' that might otherwise develop as the pet grows older.
Attending puppy classes during this primary socialization period is another excellent way to ensure multiple contacts with a variety of people and other dogs. This relatively new concept in training involves enrolling puppies early, before they pick up 'bad habits,' and at an age when they learn very quickly. Puppy training and socialization classes are now available in many communities where, in some cases, puppies can be admitted as early as their third month. These classes can help puppies get off to a great start with training, and offer an excellent opportunity for important social experiences with other puppies and with a wide variety of people. Eight to ten weeks is an ideal time to begin classes. Since there can be some health risks when exposing young puppies to other dogs and new environments, the best age to begin your puppy in classes should be discussed with your veterinarian.
It is important for every puppy to meet as many new people as possible, in a wide variety of situations. It may be beneficial to ask each person who meets the puppy to give the puppy a biscuit. This will teach the puppy to look forward to meeting people and discourage handshyness, since the puppy will learn to associate new friends and an outstretched hand with something positive. Once the puppy has learned to sit on command, have each new friend ask it to sit before giving the biscuit. This teaches a proper greeting and will make the puppy less likely to jump up on people. You should make certain that the pet has the opportunity to meet and receive biscuits from a wide variety of people of all ages, appearances, and both sexes during the early formative months. Every effort must be made to see that the young pup has plenty of opportunities to learn about children. Kids can seem like a completely different species to dogs since they walk, act, and talk much differently than adults. Puppies that grow up without meeting children when they are young may never feel comfortable around them when they become adults.
And last, but not least, be careful to avoid physical punishment and any interactions with people that might make the puppy anxious. Harshly punishing a young pet will damage its bond with you and weaken its trust in people. Techniques such as swatting the pup, shaking it by the scruff, roughly forcing it onto its back, thumping it on the nose, and rubbing its face in a mess should never be used. Pets that are raised using these methods may grow up to fear the human hand, and are likely candidates to become fear biters. In general, any interactions with people that might make a puppy anxious should particularly be avoided during the early months of its life.
A. Choose the desired location and teach the puppy where to go
1. Ensure that the location is practical and easy to access (e.g., a short walk from the back door).
2. Go out with your puppy every time and enthusiastically praise elimination in the desired area.
3. Take the pet out when it is most likely to need to eliminate:
• Following play, exercise, meals, naps, and being released from confinement. Feeding and drinking may stimulate elimination. Therefore, supervise well after feeding and plan to take the puppy out to eliminate within 30 to 60 minutes after it eats.
• Prior to confinement or bedtime.
4. Consider teaching your puppy to go' on command by saying a command word, such as hurry up,' in a positive tone as it squats to eliminate.
B. Maintain a consistent schedule
1. Offer food two to three times each day at the same time.
2. Only leave the food down for 20 minutes or until your puppy walks away. However, you should also discuss with your veterinarian how to assess your puppy's body score (i.e., whether it is too heavy, skinny, or normal) so that food quantity can be adjusted according to your pet's needs.
3. Take up the water bowl about one to two hours prior to bedtime.
C. Confine/supervise (small room, crate, or tie-down)
1. Until the puppy has completed four consecutive weeks without soiling in the home, it should be within eyesight of a family member or confined to a safe puppy-proofed area.
2. The room, crate, or pen used for confinement is intended to serve as a safe, comfortable bed, playpen, or den for the puppy. The puppy should not be confined to this area until after it has eliminated and had sufficient exercise and social interaction (i.e., when it is due for a sleep, nap, or rest) and should not be confined for any longer than it can control elimination, unless paper-training techniques are being used.
3. Most puppies can control elimination through the night by four months of age. During the daytime, puppies four months or less usually have a few hours of control, while puppies five months and over may be able to last longer between eliminations.
4. If the puppy eliminates in its cage, it may have been left there longer than it can be confined without eliminating, or the cage may be large enough that it sleeps in one end and eliminates in the other; in this case a divider might be used temporarily. Also, if the puppy is anxious about being confined to its crate or left alone, it is unlikely to keep the crate clean.
5. Use a leash indoors to help supervise the puppy. By observing the puppy closely for pre elimination signs, the puppy can be trained to eliminate outdoors without the need for punishment and may soon learn to signal when it has to eliminate.
D. Handling mistakes
1. Punishment is generally not indicated as part of a housetraining program. The goal is to interrupt your puppy if it is caught in the act of eliminating indoors, and direct it to the appropriate location so that it can be rewarded when it eliminates there.
2. If you catch your puppy in the act of eliminating indoors, quickly say no' and clap your hands or pull on the leash to interrupt the behavior (you have one to two seconds to catch it in the act). Then take the pet outside and praise it enthusiastically upon completion.
3. If urine or stool is found on the floor after the puppy has eliminated, do not consider any form of correction since the puppy will not associate the correction with the elimination. You can prevent resoiling in the home by closing doors or moving furniture to prevent access to the location, booby trapping the location with a repellent or motion detector, constant supervision of your puppy, and by consistently rewarding elimination outdoors.
E. Odor elimination
Clean up any odors from indoor elimination. Be certain to use enough odor neutralizer to get to the source of the odor. Use one of the products that have been specifically designed to eliminate pet urine odors (chemical modification, enzymes, bacterial odor removal), and follow the label directions.
F. Paper training
While it is best to skip paper training and immediately train the pup to eliminate outdoors, this approach is sometimes necessary for apartment dwellers or when it is not practical to take the puppy outside frequently enough. For paper training, the puppy should be confined to a room or pen with paper covering the floor except for a sleeping area. The puppy should be confined to this area while you are out, or when you cannot supervise. Paper training can be combined with outdoor training so that the puppy learns that there are two appropriate places to eliminate. The crate could be used for confinement for shorter departures and the papered area for longer departures. Another option is to train the pup to use an indoor litter product.
In some households and in some communities, it might also be practical to house the dog in an outdoor run, or provide a dog door with outdoor access if the owner cannot be home to let the dog outside when it needs to eliminate.
GUIDE TO CRATE/CONFINEMENT TRAINING
Confinement training is intended to provide a comfortable bed, den, or play area for the dog, while restricting access to areas where it might housesoil, do harm to itself, or cause damage. Crate training should be considered akin to placing a young child in a playpen or crib for playtime or sleeping. Other alternatives for confinement include housing the dog in a pen, run, or dog-proofed room, where it might have more freedom
stretch out, chew, or play with its toys. If you don't provide a safe confinement area at times that you cannot supervise, your dog will wander the home unsupervised and will likely engage in destructive chewing, roam through restricted areas, eliminate in undesirable locations, and get into potentially dangerous situations.
The location and techniques used for training should be designed to keep the experience positive. For example, the dog should be encouraged to sleep, nap, or play with its chew toys in its confinement area. On the other hand, if the dog is confined at a time when it is in need of play, attention, or elimination, then escape attempts and anxiety are to be expected. If a dog's attempts at escape are ever successful, then future, more ambitious attempts to escape are likely to occur. Therefore a secure, inescapable form of confinement should be utilized.
Benefits of a crate/confinement trained dog
1. Security - a specific area that serves as a den or resting area for the dog.
2. Safety for the pet.
3. Prevents damage (chewing, investigation, elimination, etc.).
4. Aids in the training of proper chewing and elimination by preventing failure and encouraging success.
5. Traveling: accustoms the dog to confinement for traveling and boarding.
6. Improved relationship with your pet: fewer problems and therefore less discipline for the pet and less frustration/anxiety for you.
1. A metal, collapsible crate with a tray floor or a plastic traveling crate works well, provided it is large enough for the dog to stand and turn around. Some dogs adapt quicker to a small room, run, or doggy playpen.
2. Because dogs are social animals, an ideal location for the crate is a room that the family frequents such as a kitchen, den, or bedroom, rather than an isolated laundry or furnace room. If you have observed your dog choosing a particular corner or room to take a nap, or you wish your dog to sleep in a particular location at night, then this might be the best location for the crate.
3. For the crate to remain a positive retreat, it should not be used for punishment. If social isolation (time-out) is used, consider placing the dog in a laundry room or bathroom.
4. A radio or television may help to calm the dog and may help to mask environmental noises that can trigger barking.
1. Introduce the puppy to the crate as early in the day as possible. Place a few treats, toys, or food in the crate so that the puppy is motivated to enter voluntarily. Command training (e.g., Go to your kennel') can also be useful.
2. The first confinement session should be after a period of play, exercise, and elimination (i.e., when the puppy is ready to take a nap). Place the puppy in its crate with a toy and a treat and close the door. Alternatively, if the puppy lies down to take a nap, move the puppy to the crate for the duration of the nap.
3. Leave the room but remain close enough to hear the puppy. Some degree of distress vocalization is to be expected the first few times the puppy is separated from its family members. Never reward the pet by letting it out when it cries or whines. Ignore it until the crying stops. Release the puppy when it wakes or if you need to awaken your puppy for feeding, play, or elimination (e.g., prior to your departure).
4. If crying does not subside on its own, a mild interruption may be useful. Any interruption that causes fear or anxiety must be avoided since it is not mentally healthy for the pet and could aggravate the vocalization or cause elimination in the crate. During the interruption, you should remain out of sight, so that the puppy does not learn to associate the interruption with your presence. A sharp noise, such as that provided by a shaker can containing a few coins, can be used to interrupt barking. A squirt from a water gun may also be effective. Another way to discourage barking is to use a commercial bark-activated device that produces an alarm or distracting spray when the puppy vocalizes.
5. Repeat the confinement training procedures a few more times before bedtime.
6. Prior to bedtime, the puppy should be exercised and secured in its crate for the night. Again do not go to the pet if it is crying. If the puppy cries in the middle of the night, it should be ignored or a brief interruption can be utilized (as above). Then release the puppy when it is quiet and time to get up. Puppies under four months of age may not be able to keep their crate clean for the entire night, so an early morning walk may be necessary for the first few weeks. Sometimes the best way to reduce distress vocalization is to locate the crate in the bedroom.
7. Never leave the puppy in its crate for longer than it can control itself or it may be fo to eliminate in the crate. If the pup must be left for longer than it can control elimination, a larger confinement area with paper for elimination, a puppy litterbox, or access to an elimination area outdoors by dog door will be necessary.
8. Until a puppy has been housetrained (no accidents for at least four consecutive weeks) and no longer destroys household objects in your absence, it should not be allowed out of its confinement area except under direct supervision. While the puppy is out of its confinement area, constant supervision is required so that undesirable behaviors can be interrupted and desirable behaviors can be rewarded.
The adult dog
1. The most important principles for effective crate training include locating the crate (or confinement area) in a location where the dog feels comfortable about sleeping or napping and gradually introducing the dog to confinement in as positive a manner as pàssible.
2. Set up the crate in the dog's feeding area or sleeping area with the door open for a few days. Place food, treats, and toys in the crate so that the dog enters the crate on its own. Once the dog is entering the crate freely, it is time to close the door.
3. Follow steps 1 to 4 in puppy training above to accustom the dog to confinement. Repeat these procedures for a few days, gradually increasing the amount of time the dog must remain quietly in the crate before it is released.
4. Finally, the dog should be left in its crate during bedtime or during departures. Try short departures first, and gradually make them longer.
5. Some dogs may adapt quicker to crate training by having the dog sleep in the crate at night.
6. If you are away from home four or more days per week, the pet should not be left in the crate for more than about four hours during the day each day when you are gone.
Crate training problems
If your dog is particularly anxious or eliminates in its crate, then it may be an indication that some part of the
crate training technique needs to be revisited.
1. It may be possible that the dog is being left in its crate longer than it can control elimination. Confine the dog for a shorter time and be certain that it has eliminated prior to confinement.
2. If the crate is overly large some dogs may sleep in one end and eliminate in the other. Consider a smaller crate or a divider.
3. If your dog is anxious or attempts to escape when left in its crate, then he or she may not have been accustomed to its crate in a gradual and positive enough manner. Review the steps above to ensure that the crate is in a comfortable bedding location, that each crate introduction is positive, and that the crate is not used for punishment.
4. If the dog has previously escaped from its crate, this serves to encourage further escape attempts. Change to a more secure confinement area or ensure that the crate is inescapable. It may then be necessary to supervise the dog in its crate for a period of time to help reduce anxiety and deter further escape attempts.
Food bowl handling is intended to teach the puppy to feel comfortable and even learn to enjoy the presence of people while it is eating or near its food bowl.
A. Don't put the food bowl down and ignore the puppy while it eats. Sit down, visit with the pup, talk to it, and spend some quality social time.
B. Food bowl handling (teach that the hand is coming to give, not to take away).
1. Walk by the puppy while it is eating and drop a piece of canned food, meat, or cheese-flavored treat into the food bowl. Ask visitors to do the same.
2. Occasionally reach down toward the bowl and put a food treat in it.
3. Place the bowl in your lap or on the floor in front of you. Feed the puppy. Handle the food, gently pet the puppy. Act jolly.
4. Take the bowl away. Put a highly desirable food treat in the bowl and give it back.
5. Gently touch and handle the puppy while putting a food treat in the bowl.
6. Occasionally make the puppy work for a handful of food by asking it to sit for each piece.
Leadership and control
Positive and consistent training, both in action and in attitude, are needed to gain control of your puppy. In the dog pack, a dog will assume a position in the hierarchy based on its genetics and the results of its ongoing social interactions with other pack members. Although the human household may not be entirely representative of a dog pack, any dominant displays, postures, or attitudes toward the owners (e.g., nipping, excessive mouthing, md jumping up) must be discouraged, while obedience or deference to the owners should be encouraged. At the very least, if these behaviors have been reinforced or are allowed to continue unabated, they become increasingly difficult to resolve and may even progress to more intensive displays of overexuberance, disobedience, dominance, and aggression.
A. Be fair
1. Be consistent with rewards and corrections. Set rules that everyone observes. This is the only way that the puppy can learn what is acceptable and what is not acceptable.
2. Don't take good behaviors for granted.
3. Be generous with praise; give much more praise than scolding.
4. Never hit the puppy or use any type of physical punishment.
B. Make the puppy aware of your importance in its life
1. Feed it on schedule at specific times.
2. Make the puppy say please by responding to a command before it gets anything it wants or needs (dinner, treats, toys, picked up, walks, petting, play). It may help to keep in mind one of these two catch phrases: 'Learn to earn' or 'Nothing in life is free.'
3. Once it learns to stay, ask it to stay for a second or two before following you around the home, in and out of rooms, and in and out of the home.
C. Do not allow the puppy to take control
1. Do not allow it to constantly solicit attention.
2. Do not defer or give in to the puppy's demands, unless the behavior is desirable (e.g., barking at the door to eliminate outdoors).
3. Teach the puppy to stop play biting on command.
4. Curb excessive barking.
D. Show your leadership in actions
1. Train your puppy to learn commands and then insist that he or she is immediately responsive. If the puppy ignores you or refuses to obey, gently but immediately show the puppy what is expected.
2. Be certain that you are the one to initiate all that is positive. This means that the puppy should not get affection, attention, or treats on demand, but rather when they are initiated by you or when you are using them to reward a desired behavior. Deferring to the owner should be encouraged.
PUPPY MOUTHING, NIPPING, AND BITING
- BITE INHIBITION AND TEACHING OFF
1. No hard bites or pressure.
(a) When the puppy is calm, place your hand in its mouth and praise it when it mouths softly.
(b) Give an immediate, loud 'ouch!' whenever the puppy applies too much pressure, and stop playing with it. Once the puppy ceases, you can give it an alternative form of play or attention (e.g., chew toy, exercise session, training session) or a settle exercise (see our settle exercise handout), and reward the desirable behavior.
2. Mild attempts at deterring the puppy and physically discouraging the puppy can actually serve to increase the intensity of play and biting.
3. Gentle mouthing as a form of play is OK, but it should not be initiated by the puppy and the family must be able to stop it on command. Any hard biting or overexuberant play must be discouraged.
4. Avoid tug of war if the pet becomes too excited, aggressive, or out of control. Tug of war games should only be allowed when you have initiated them and when you can quickly stop the game on command with an ouch, give, or drop command.
5. If the puppy is constantly demanding attention through mouthing and biting or is overexuberant in its play, then it is likely not receiving sufficient stimulation. You should consider additional or longer periods of play, training, and exercise, and more outlets for chewing to pre-empt the puppy's unacceptable play biting.
6. If the puppy cannot be quickly calmed and settled, then confining it away from the target (e.g., children, visitors) until it settles may be necessary. When the puppy is calm it can then be released, and encouraged to play in an appropriate manner.
7. For those problems that cannot be quickly and effectively controlled with bite inhibition techniques, a leash and head halter can be left attached when the puppy is with the family. Mouthing or biting can be immediately stopped with a pull on the leash, with tension released as soon as the puppy settles. The leash and head halter can also be used to teach the off command by first giving the command and if the puppy does not immediately cease, pulling the hand back and guiding the dog into the proper response with a pull on the leash.
8. For some puppies in some homes, all forms of hard mouthing and play biting may be unacceptable. This may be the case when there are elderly or young children in the home.
The purpose of this command is to get the puppy to stop mouthing or playbiting on command.
1. Present a piece of food to get the pet's attention, say 'OK' in a friendly tone of voice and give the food.
2. Present another piece of food and say 'off' in a firm tone of voice, but don't yell.
(a) If the puppy doesn't make contact with your hand or the food for two seconds, say 'OK' and give up the food.
(b) If the puppy touches your hand before the two seconds pass and before you say 'OK,' immediately yell 'off' loud enough to make the puppy back away without frightening it. Be dramatic, lean toward the pup, make eye contact, and give a forceful command.
(c) Repeat, gradually increasing the time the puppy has to wait.
3. Once the pup learns to back away from food on command, practice the above exercise using only your hand. Later, repeatthe exercise when the puppy is in more excited moods.
4. Work toward the puppy not taking food, or touching your hand, no matter how tasty the treat or how your hand is moving, once you have said 'off.'
5. You must practice every day to attain a dependable response.
HANDLING AND FEEDING EXERCISES
The first goal (Level 1) of handling exercises is to teach the puppy to tolerate and enjoy all types of handling from family members and friends. The second goal (Level 2) is to teach the pet to tolerate more intensive, firm, or unfamiliar forms of handling that might be necessary for restraint, grooming (including nail trimming, ear cleaning, and combing), teeth brushing, veterinary care, or that might arise in greeting or play with new people or children. If the puppy can be trained to associate these forms of handling with rewards and play, it may not become problematic when they are experienced later. The goal is to proof' the puppy to prevent it from getting upset if it is4iandled roughly or caught by surprise.
Similarly, feeding exercises are intended to help the pet accept and enjoy approach and handling during feeding.
1. Avoid any type of handling during these exercises that causes the pet to become agliated or anxious.
2. If you observe threats or aggression during any of these exercises, seek guidance from a trainer or behaviorist before proceeding.
3. Reaching out for the puppy should always be positive. Hand contact must always be considered a friendly (non-aversive) gesture. Never hit the pup or roughly grab its muzzle or neck.
A. Level 1: Teaching tolerance
The goal of handling exercises is to accustom the puppy to accept and enjoy all types of handling from friends and family members.
1. Begin by only working with the puppy when it is calm.
2. Inspect its ears, mouth, paws, belly, and haircoat.
3. Initially interact for only one second and end with praise or food (the pup's dinner time is a good time to do this).
4. Anticipate the puppy's mood and reaction and always stop before the puppy stops you.
5. Frequently repeat the exercises, gradually lengthening the interaction time.
6. Always praise the puppy whenever it doesn't resist handling.
7. Progress slowly enough to avoid eliciting resistance, aggression, or anxious behaviors. Don't ever force the puppy to endure handling, especially if it seems uncomfortable or stressed.
B. Level 2: Proofing puppies for more intensive handling
1. Act jolly; offer food or a toy.
2. Gently touch, pet, stroke, or massage various areas of the body and collar while giving the pet food or a toy.
3. Gradually increase the intensity of touching, pushing, patting, and grasping different areas of the body (e.g., face, feet, muzzle, ears) as the puppy gets more used to it.
4. Always praise the puppy and intermittently give favored treats whenever it doesn't resist handling.
5. Start with short sessions, anticipate the puppy's attention span and stop before the puppy gets tired of the exercise.
6. Consider your dog and lifestyle and adapt and progress with your handling exercises (gentle, positive, reward association) to what the puppy might one day be expected to encounter (e.g., brushing the teeth, lifting and carrying, bathing, grooming, cleaning ears, wiping feet, nail trimming, etc.).