Getting Puppies Off to a Good Start
If you do a good job
You'll have fewer problems for the next 10-15 years
So much has been written about this topic. So, I'll make this relatively short and point you to a few good resources.
Just a few major points, and then I'll send you on your way.
- All animals are pre-wired to develop fear easily. That's usually a good thing because it keeps animals alive in the wild. But our puppies are going to live safely with us and there's no reason they need to be afraid of passing trucks, skateboarders, balloons, children, car rides, hands reaching for them, etc. Proper socialization as young dogs (generally assumed to be younger than 16 weeks) will really help in this area.
- Every dog trainer will give you a different list of things you MUST teach your puppy first. And those are all opinions instead of facts. My short list of "musts" are:
- Teach your puppy that you are fun - if you do, you'll be able to teach a reliable recall quite easily. Treat often and generously. Play. Make silly noises. BE FUN!
- Teach your puppy that you are a source of safety. If your puppy gets scared, comfort him. You can't "reinforce fear" by comforting your dog, so don't worry about that. When given safety, your puppy will grow up confident - let it happen at their own pace.
- Teach your puppy the importance of bite inhibition. There's no evidence that this can be taught once they are adults - so it's really important.
- That's it. Really. You can teach sit, stay, down, roll over, agility, fly-ball, and cute tricks later. There's nothing wrong with teaching some of those things early. But if you just focus on the first three items in the first few months, you'll be fine.
Here are some resources for puppy owners that I like.
Life Skills for Puppies - a short a very readable book by Dr. Daniel Mills.
Before and After You Get Your Puppy - by Dr. Ian Dunbar (and you can likely find a downloadable version of this one online free of charge).
Puppy Socialization Checklists can be found quite easily online. Here's one I like.
Puppy Socialization Classes are likely available in your area and I STRONGLY encourage you to get to them as quickly as possible. If you're in the SF Bay Area, I can recommend some excellent classes.
I love working with puppies and I'll be happy to start teaching your pup right away and to give you advice on house training, bite inhibition, chewing, and other completely normal problems we face when bringing a young animal into our house. Feel free to contact me.