With proper puppy training from birth to week 16, you can avoid behavioural problems in your dog later on. We take a look at socialisation of your puppy, give you some tips and point you in the direction of the Kennel Club and Dogs Trust joint socialisation plan.

A puppy’s brain is like a super-absorbent sponge – it grows ten-fold in the first 16 weeks, taking in everything the puppy sees, smells, hears, tastes, meets…so it makes sense to expose them to as much as possible at this time to end up with a well-balanced and sociable dog.

Puppy training no-no

Don’t take a puppy from its mum or rest of the litter too early. It can lead to behavioural problems. Puppies should stay with mum for at least 7 weeks.

Puppy socialisation up to week 8

Up to week 8 the puppy is learning all about the world from mum, the rest of the litter, the breeder or rescue family. By week 3 the puppy’s eyes start to open, they see movement and start to hear sounds – at this stage you should introduce as many sights and sounds of family life as possible so it all becomes normal to pup.

Example of sounds to introduce: Doorbell, TV, Vacuum cleaner, chatter, doors banging, music, laughing, loud noise like thunder (if you can magic up a storm!)

Examples of things to show puppy: roll things across in front of them, flash a torch (not at them, around the room), change light levels, bounce a large soft ball, roll or drag things past them, hang a baby’s mobile in the pen for 30 minutes a day (out of reach).

From 8 weeks on the puppy training is in your hands

For the next 8 weeks the puppy is still learning about who is part of her social group and who is not. Your job is to make sure she gets plenty of rewarding experiences with the people, animals and things that are going to be part of her life.

There are two aspects of puppy training that you need to focus on, as follows:

  • Socialisation: getting puppy used to things you want him to be friendly towards and interact with, play with and look on as being part of his social group – having pleasant social interactions with adults, children, vets, adult dogs and other animals, for example.
  • Habituation: getting puppy used to things you want him to accept as normal, not worry about and so ignore and pay attention to you instead in their presence – careful exposure to different situations in the environment like traffic, crowds, travelling in the car, the vacuum cleaner, cyclists, skateboarders, for example.

Puppy training resource – Kennel Club and Dogs Trust Socialisation Plan http://www.thepuppyplan.com/

This is a fabulous resource to help with training and socialisation. It can be completed online or you can print checklists and guides out as you go.
You’ll get lots of hints and useful information here to prepare your own puppy training plan.