by Jamie Vogel
Who doesn’t love puppies? … and if the answer is you, don’t admit it. I LOVE puppies (which when you have a house full of screaming, pooping, peeing newborn puppies multiple times a year, loving them is SUPER important). Most people love puppies because they’re cute, cuddly, happy, and let’s not forget the “puppy breathe” (insert heart emoji here). But why do I love puppies? I love puppies because they’re blank slates, little sponges ready to absorb anything and everything the world throws at them, as long as it’s done correctly.
Here’s the thing guys and gals, socializing your puppies can either go really, really well, or quite the opposite. Puppy impressions last a lifetime and it is crucial that when you consider bringing a puppy into your home, you cut out time in your day not only for normal obedience training, but for socialization as well, EVERYDAY.
The puppies in my program start getting exposed to environmental stimulus as early as 3 days old. We start the ENS and ESI (links below for clarification) at just 72 hours old. They are handled routinely throughout the day even before their eyes and ears are open. Once their ears are open they are on a 24-hour loop of noises inclusive of: people running up behind them, thunderstorms, fireworks, children playing, dishwashers, construction, lawn equipment etc. These are all real life things that they will be exposed to, and if we can capture “normalness” of those sounds before 4 weeks of age when they can experience fear, were ahead of the curve.
Surfaces, textures, other dogs, people – they are exposed to all of this starting at 3 weeks of age. Again it is critical that these puppies see as much as they can before they can experience fear. However, all of this before 4 weeks and through the time they leave me at 8 weeks doesn’t mean much, if the owner doesn’t continue the process at home. Your job, as a responsible owner, is to continue to expose these puppies to SOMETHING NEW EVERYDAY UNTIL AT LEAST 6 MONTHS OF AGE.
How do you do that you may ask?
- Feed them their meals in a new environment everyday
- Take them with you to dog-friendly places (link attached for reference)
- Build small puppy friendly obstacle courses with new “obstacles” (tunnel, baby ramp to climb, little platform to jump on with different texture, small slide etc)
- Select dogs with appropriate dog behavior to socialize with
- Introduce to new people everyday
Reminder: Puppies go through multiple fear periods in the first 2 years of their life, usually around a growth spurt. Do not feed into this with positive reinforcement or you are rewarding that mindset, continue on as normal and trust that within a few days it will pass.
Jamie Vogel is the owner of Vogelhaus German Shepherds, based in Central NJ. Jamie’s goal is simple, to provide her clients with German Shepherds who can be active family members, teammates, best friends. Dogs who are stable not only in structure and soundness but in their mind. For more information please visit vogelhausgsd.com