Properly socializing a puppy between 8 –12 weeks is critical!
To ensure the puppy grows into a balanced, well-behaved adult dog, she must be introduced daily to as many new people and friendly, healthy dogs as possible. Positive experiences from this developmental period are imprinted for life, and will shape her into becoming a friendly, confident dog.
Unfortunately, if you miss this window, you cannot turn back the clock, and will most likely be faced with a never-ending struggle to manage anxiety, fear, and/or aggression.
For further reading on socialization, read our article Puppy Socialization Guidelines.
Between 7-16 weeks your puppy’s brain is developing rapidly. She is becoming aware of her environment and associating feelings of safety and fear with her surroundings.
This is the time when you must expose her, in a positive way, to the sights, sounds, and experiences of the city… no matter how scary they may seem to her in the beginning. This, along with socialization, is where most of your energy should be spent in the early weeks.
Unfortunately, if you miss this window, you cannot turn back the clock, and will most likely be faced with the never-ending struggle of managing anxious behaviors.
For further reading on exposing puppies to an urban environment, read our article Puppy Socialization Guidelines.
Housetraining is all about learning the most important rules of the house: where to poop and pee, what to chew (and not chew), where to sleep, and how to feel comfortable when left alone in the home.
At the very beginning, when you bring your puppy home, housetraining will take up a lot of your time and energy. However, if you put the time in at the beginning and remain vigilant and consistent, your efforts will quickly be rewarded. Most puppies can learn the basics within a couple of weeks. By 16 weeks your puppy should be mostly pooping and peeing outside, should be comfortable alone in the house for at least a couple of hours, and should know what he’s allowed to chew and what not to chew.
For further reading on housetraining your puppy, read our article Puppy Housebreaking Guidelines.
Absolutely essential for both physical and mental well-being, exercise is rigorous movement that builds your dog’s strength, provides mental stimulation, and tires her out. Exercise is the magical “elixir” that cures boredom, prevents the development of destructive habits, and eases/eliminates separation anxiety.
Leashed walks rarely provide enough exercise for young, healthy dogs. When dogs exercise they need to regulate themselves by running and resting at intervals, something best achieved by off-leash activity outside at a park, beach, playground, etc.
For young puppies, short intervals of play are enough. As they get older and gain more stamina, their exercise routine needs to get longer, and more physically demanding.
Our article on puppy exercise is coming soon. Subscribe to our newsletter to be notified when it is published.
Playing interactive games with a puppy helps establish the foundations for training by introducing incentives (treats, toys, praise), by strengthening the parent/puppy relationship, and by practicing communication. Importantly, we also use play to introduce puppy to movements and positions that will be used in obedience training, like running to the parent, sitting down to get a treat, following the hand with the toy.
Obedience training is the process of teaching a dog to reliably respond, with a desired action, to a specific command, even when she may not necessarily want to.
The transition from teaching-games to structured obedience training is gradual, and should happen when the puppy is around 5-6 months old.
For further reading on teaching games to your puppy, and transitioning to obedience training, read our article Puppy Play – A Healthy Start to Training.
By gently introducing discipline to your puppy at a young age, she will internalize the lessons and respond more effectively to your communications as she grows older. She will link your communication of displeasure with the boundaries and consequences you have imposed, making elements of the housetraining process more fluid and intuitive, minimizing the development of unwanted behaviors, and later on, strengthening your obedience training lessons.
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