This is our final installment of our new puppy series. You have learned a lot along the way and so has your puppy. Your bond has become stronger and you should be starting to settle into this lifestyle a bit. If you are having a great time so far, then you truly are a “dog person”! First off, thank you. Thank you for being a great Ambassador for your puppy’s life here on this planet. This is a lifelong commitment and you are doing a great job!
So far you have gone through week one and have got your basic supplies, found a good Vet and got the basics done.
You have successfully made it through week two and have got them comfortable with touch, started some basic training and your bond has gotten stronger. You feel comfortable enough to have enough control over your puppy to where your puppy is safe. If you are not yet this comfortable, you may need help in the form of a puppy training class with professional help.
Proceed with these next steps with caution. But know that this part is very important for their mental health and more.
It’s time to socialize! Socialize, expose and explore!
Note, your puppy is more than likely under-vaccinated. We began week one with the assumption that your puppy was 8 weeks old. He/she has had their Distemper, Parvovirus, and Bordetella shots before they even came home with you. Last week (since you found a good Veterinarian already) your puppy got DHPP, Influenza, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, and Lyme disease shots. Your puppy may currently be too young for their first rabies shot which is usually given between 16-18 weeks of age.
Unfortunately, at this stage, you can not let your puppy mingle with unfamiliar dogs. Most dog parents know this and will respect this, but it is still your responsibility. We hope that you have made a few puppy friends that you are in fact familiar with. Meaning, you have an intimate understanding of their home environment, their shot schedule and more to where everyone is comfortable playing together.
This step is about exposing your puppy to the world!
Socialization is one of, if not the most important job you have as a new puppy parent. Basic socialization right now also helps them show you who they are in terms of personality. It is absolutely critical to positively expose them to the world around them.
Remember last week and the leash training? This week is when that training pays off. Also last week you desensitized them to being touched to where they are not afraid of others.
If at this stage your puppy is not comfortable with the leash, can not quite walk properly on his/her own, or they are still scared of others – it is still essential to get them out into the world. You can carry them in your arms or even use a stroller.
Armed with a simple multi functional travel combo kit that stores food, water and poop bags, go to public places where people are.
Sit with your puppy on a blanket at a public park and the like. You want them to see and interact with new things. Even something like a leaf blowing by may be fascinating to them. You want them to meet and interact with friendly strangers (humans) and you want to continue to vocally praise them and reinforce positive behavior. Don’t push them too fast, just go about this at their own pace.
One goal is for your puppy to form positive associations with new sights and sounds, greetings from strangers and the like. Rather than your puppy being frightened by these things, show your puppy that the world to them is a safe and positive place and exploring it is welcomed. Understand that dogs can sense your fear and react to it accordingly. Simply put, if you are scared, they will be too. If you are happy, they will be too. So keep your feelings in check. We know that the first few times out in the world with your puppy can make you nervous and concerned. But don’t be so nervous to where you pass that on to them.
Carefully teach them that rides in your car are awesome and fun! Expose them to the noises of traffic, squeaky car brakes, fire truck sirens, buses and other things to demonstrate how they are safe the entire time! Expose them to various daily elements like dusk, dawn, night time, rain, snow and more. Exposing puppies to young children of all ages is a great learning experience for all. Children and puppies are usually very comfortable with each other by default. Expose them to people on bicycles, skateboards and other forms of the way people get around. Including the elderly or disabled in wheelchairs, walkers and the like.
Please be aware that this is serious and is very important. To understand what you are working on, click here to read about Dog Anxiety. That link also explains the basics of some of the next steps from here to include separation training, doggie dens and more.
Hopefully our 3 part series has been helpful! If you need any help, don’t hesitate to contact us.