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Logan learning about the other pets in our household at 8 weeks old.

We all know how exciting it can be to get a new puppy. It is such a great experience that can be filled with lots of joy, but also frustration and definitely many lessons. The day you bring the puppy home everything is good, you’re happy, the family is happy, the puppy is happy, but then you start thinking about his future. You come up with all of the things you would love for him to know, or do, or be like. “I want him to play fetch”, “to love swimming”, “to be able to run off leash”. These are all reasonable expectations, and absolutely can make owning a dog even more enjoyable for all involved. At the same time, it doesn’t come overnight! It will take a lot of work and knowledge on your part. Dogs are not born knowing basic behaviors and will need your guidance in order to succeed and become the dog you’ve always dreamed about. Because I have gone through this many times myself, I have put together a few tips in order to help you achieve these things with your new companion!

People, other dogs/animals, places, surfaces, etc.
Raising a puppy correctly between 7-12 weeks is critical. It is at this time that rapid learning occurs and what they do learn will have a lasting impact. Everything and everyone he encounters, and the reactions that come along with it, will have a lasting impression on your puppy. If the first child they meet acts wild and crazy, not knowing how to handle a puppy, this dog very well could be frightened of children for the remainder of its life. Making sure puppies at this age have GOOD associations with other people, animals, objects and places is extremely important.
“How do I do this?”, you say. Well, really it’s a simple process. It may take some time and effort, but it isn’t anything complex and it will be worth all of the work in the end. Good socialization starts with 4 things:

  • When
  • Where
  • Why
  • How

When: Now! Your puppy is at his prime age for socialization, don’t wait! A lot of puppy handbooks and veterinarians will tell you to be extra careful with taking your puppy to new places at such a young age, while I agree to an extent, the more a puppy is exposed to the more immune he will become. If you keep them hidden for too long, not only could they become filled with fear of new things, but they may become prone to getting sicknesses easier, as well. This, however, still doesn’t mean you should be careless about where your puppy is going and what/who they are going to be around.

Where: Everywhere! From the moment I get my puppies, usually at 8 weeks old, I take them with me everywhere I go. While some places prefer you not, technically, dogs are allowed in any store that doesn’t sell food. Don’t be afraid to ask! Lowe’s and, of course, pet stores are some of my favorite places to take them- lots of visitors and items of all kinds to be around.

Why: This is how your puppy will become fearless. It is your job to make sure they know about children, men and women, other dogs, shopping carts, stairs and even different surfaces like tile and anything else you can think of so that they do not live a life in fear. Too many dogs are kept within certain environments far too long and when exposed to something new they completely stress out. It is up to us, as a responsible pet owner, to ensure that ours dogs have a chance to experience as many different places, people and things as possible, so that they never have to stress or worry about anything. They rely on us, especially at such a young age, to make the right decisions regarding their care. Like children, they don’t always know what is best for them.

How: By using lots of praise and rewards! It is crucial that you make these encounters GOOD things. Use lots of treats and toys when they meet new people and come across new objects. Make sure not to forget the happy voice with all of the “Good Dog!” praising.


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