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Grand Forks, North Dakota

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There is nearly unanimous agreement among behavior professionals that the most important thing we can do to set our puppies up to lead confident lives is to provide them safe and positive experiences with everything they will encounter as an adult. To say a puppy should meet 100 strangers before 12 weeks old is not an exaggeration!

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. During the socialization period puppies' brains are uniquely able to form new connections which will guide them later in life when deciding whether or not something is safe. While it varies between individual and breed, this period lasts approximately from 5 weeks of age to 12 weeks. As you can see, the clock is ticking. Repeated exposure during which the puppy feels safe and happy is the best preventative for behavior problems late in life such as reactivity, aggression, fear, and inflicting injurious bites.

Socialization does not guarantee a perfectly stable adult, as there are many other factors that have a strong impact such as genetics, the stress level of their mother during and after pregnancy, untreated or undiagnosed pain, current environment and past learning. However, the aftermath of puppies who did not receive socilization within this window, vs similar puppies in similar environments who did, is drastic and has been well documented in scientific literature.

Check out the position statement on puppy socialization from the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior.

  • Pretend grooming with tools & table. Includes toothbrushing!

  • Practicing puppy play consent tests.

  • People approaching or running towards puppy is good!

  • Being picked up or reached for by the collar/harness.

  • Resource guarding prevention (I take stuff = you get food!)

  • Vaccination restraint practice including mock syringe.

  • Mock exam including ear/mouth inspection.

  • Holding still is lucrative.

  • The smell of rubbing alcohol doesn’t predict bad things.

  • Kennels can be fun!

  • Find that smell!

  • Puzzle toys make puppy think, keeping their brain active!

  • Work to eat toys are worth the effort!

  • Training basics like sit & down, aka learning to learn!

Learn to love being handled.

Grooming and vet exam prep.

Enrichment for the brain!

  • Flapping flags.

  • Statues and waterfowl decoys.

  • Moving boxes, rubbermaids.

  • Large lidded trash bins.

  • Table umbrellas.

  • Kids toys, mini trike.

  • Yoga balls.

  • Mirrors & vacuums.

New and unusual objects predict food!

It’s okay to look fabulous.

  • Puppy gets used to feeling sweaters, life vests, and harnesses!

  • If needed, muzzles and cones aren’t new or scary.

  • Noises such as the dremel,  hair blower, and shaving clippers don’t startle or scare.

People can look different too!

  • Objects that distort faces like masks, sunglasses, hats etc.

  • Weird accessories like purses, cases, backpacks, fishing poles, headphones & cameras.

  • Equipment such as bicycles, walkers, and strollers.

  • Big coats, boots, & costumes!

Environments change.

  • Different walking surfaces like rugs & tarps.

  • Sand pit! Dig away in the sand instead of yard!

  • Height is okay, mini stairs & ramps.

  • See through surfaces are also okay! Grates & bars.

  • Wet grass doesn’t melt puppies!

  • Basic agility training ladder.

  • Starter agility teeter.

  • Agility tunnels and mini tents.

  • Ball pits and baby pools!

Doggie fun park!

All week long:

  • Other dogs are fun, not scary! This also helps puppies naturally learn to control their jaw strength and practice soft bites on furry friends.

  • Impulse control exercises at every opportunity to promote 4-on-the-floor greetings and ‘leave it’ cues!

  • Weird noises like kids, storms, appliances and novel objects are a part of life. 

  • As my client you will receive free email support for any puppy behavior problems at home or training troubleshooting guidance.