Puppies – Frequently Asked Questions and Tips
Socialization and positive introduction to as many different environments is crucial in building a super strong confident hard charging pup, The first 9 months of our pups life are the most important! Thru socialization our pups are going to lean how to interact with people and dogs and have outgoing attitudes towards both. Pups that are not socialized enough can be standoffish, show fright and have other character flaws that can inhabit or effect them for their entire lives. It’s paramount that our pups meet new people and learn how to act and react to other dogs. However, we want to make sure that interaction with other dogs is safe. Parvo shots are all in place and the other pups are well vaccinated as well. Don’t go to puppy parks or high volume dog areas with your pup where sick or infectious dogs might easily have access to. Proper positive introduction to all kinds of environments is as well crucial. We want our pups to be ready to take on the world. They must have complete confidence in new situations and surroundings. So, putting our pups in new surroundings with new sights and sounds is paramount. But we must always make sure that every experience is as positive as possible. One bad experience can scar a puppy for a lifetime. Our pups must be introduced to 4-wheelers, ATVs, boats, car rides, kennel time in vehicles and at the house, lead, new water and more are of the upmost importance for our pups to experience each and every day for the first 9 months. Our pups character and attitude is set in our pups usually by the 9th month. So with that comes the importance of taking every chance we can in building a strong confident highly driven pup. What are some of the positive experiences that you like for your pup to have as they grow up?
- Freddy King – Early introduction to birds is paramount and must continually be a part of our pup’s lives throughout the early and later months.
- Jeff Swanson – Some of the things that I have done in the past to socialize pups include visits to a buddy’s working dairy farm during milking. The pup would see herding dogs working the cows, tractors, tons of noise etc…. while I always praised the pup and made it positive! Also, I used to stake them out in the dug out during practice in my baseball coaching days and my wife would bring them to the games. Pups would get a ton of interaction with kids! One thing that I think really helps to build confidence is a daily off lead walk in the woods starting the day after they come home. Start off short with young pups on easy terrain and build to longer walks with cover and obstacles as they grow older. Let the dog explore at his own pace and the walk has no rules! Let him lag behind, catch up, wander ahead, loose track of you and find you….. it is their time to explore. I still do it with my 2.5 year old several times per week.
- Nichole Warkentin – For young pups I love treat training. Treats can be a great motivator, help maintain focus on you, and create positive experiences for the pup. When I start formal obedience around 4 months I have a pup that already happily jumps on a place stand or loads in their kennel because of positive associations when they were younger.I also think part of the puppy having confidence in new situations and surroundings is due to their confidence in you, the handler
- Marv Allen – People talk about pups having an off switch. I believe that properly socializing your pup can encourage this highly desired trait.I think you covered most of it Freddy King. The more situations you can put them in the better and the busier and more hectic the better. Like staking them out at a family BBQ where folks are carrying on and kids are running around.
- Josh Schwab – I was able to bring my pup to work with me (construction site). A ton sounds, new people and occasionally other dogs. We built a very strong bond being able to spend all day everyday together. The pup was so tired by the end of the day he had no energy to get into trouble at home.
- Deb Semko– To add to to the post, early socialization and positive introduction of pups before 9 month of age. Consider while choosing a puppy from a breeder, look for breeders who do ENS with their puppies.If you’re breeder or just considering having 1 litter, consider doing ENS with your puppies, it takes a few seconds for each pup from day 3-16 of their lives and make a huge difference. ENS has been proven to improve the overall health from increased stress tolerance, stronger nervous & immune systems, better heart and respiration rates as well as thought process. ENS stands for Early Neurological Stimulation, I’ve done this with 2 of my litters and have been complemented numerous times about how my pups have excelled in training more than their previous dogs.Will also add to this and to encourage Early Sent Introduction, ESI at the sametime. 3-5 sec of random things such as apples, peanut butter, duck/pheasant/antler sent, for a few examples. If they turn their head away they don’t like it if the continue sniffing and try leaning into it to go to it they like it, its good to have both positive and negative with this reaction (negative meaning they turn their heads away)
- Kevin McDonald– Puppy socialization and development.I picked Pearl up at 49 days old, first time she had ever been separated from the litter for any real length of time. We had 8 hours on the road to get back to Texas.I brought Scoop to help her adjust to the separation, and a pair of shooter’s ear muffs.Pearl would alternate between crying and sleeping in 15 minute intervals. I kept her in my lap, petting and soothing her as much as I could. (Safety first). For the first four hours that was our deal, her crying, me wearing ear protection, then she would fall asleep and give us both a 15 minute break.
The second half of the trip she started getting adjusted to us, so patience prevailed.
That initial trip seemed to bond us and made the best use of the time on the road, I could not have dedicated that block of uninterrupted time once we got home.
Once home we did the usual puppy socialization things, water, big open spaces, crowded places, truck, other dogs, etc.
My main focus with Pearl was filling the air with “ yes”. She was a very curious, active, almost fearless pup, but I avoided correcting her for little things. Give them their puppyhood.
When we started formal obedience, we kept that same approach. Example: If she got up and began to run, I would use the correct verbal command “sit”, instead of “no”. It got my message across with a productive command, and then the few times I needed “no” it carried more weight and had more meaning.
Just my process, enjoy your dogs!
- Kody Reynolds– Socialize that pup as much as possible. It’s like a kid ya have to teach it todo things just like a child. Teach teach and reteach. Make everything as fun as possible!!! Enjoy your pup and build a bond and you’ll have a best friend til the end.
- Cooter Moore – Puppy socialization is Key to start the foundation of a good gun dogs. Myself when I get a new puppy I will take them everywhere with me. Places where they can see new people new smells and new sounds. Back in the day My favorite place to take a new puppy was the movie store lots of new smells lots of people. Everyone loves a puppy. Good place now is Home Depot , Lowes , and Ace Hardware. Puppies also need to be around different dogs but man you have to be careful. I will put the puppy in different situation with different people strange dog but only places in other animals that I trust. I never take up to a dog park. I never leave him unsupervised with children. I do like to taking walks in the woods and at the local track. Another really good place is your local nursing home old people little puppy’s. Don’t forget The puppy needs box time aka Trailer time. All pups go on truck to the hunt test.
- Randy Harris – It’s key no doubt. I think a well socialized pup makes an easier dog to train. The last couple of 5 and 6 months old pups I’ve gotten in has set them back due to lack of socializing. I spend the first few weeks getting them over simple fears. Let a pup be a pup. Put them in every situation possible and make it positive. Small steps make big dogs.
- Matt Ryan – However here is how I approach socializing pups.First off I worry about their health. Ensure that your pups receive their rabies vaccines at 12wks of age, and a minimum of 3 distemper/parvo vaccines. In areas such as the south east I recommend extending this out to a 4th distemper/parvo vaccine if the 3rd is not at 16wk of age. To me, 1 additional vaccine to assist in boosting immunity against such deadly diseases is worth it with the over all price that we pay in money and time invested for our dogs.I also recommend completing a kennel cough and leptospirosis vaccine series on dogs that are around a lot of water and a lot of other dogs whether being boarded somewhere or not.Once vaccination series have been completed, I start taking the dog absolutely everywhere with me. Lowe’s, Home Depot, tractor supply, work (luckily taking them to work is super easy for me), etc. I split their time between riding in the cab and riding in the kennel (once 16wk) so they will begin getting use to being there as well and look forward to getting to load up into the kennel. I also begin putting an e-collar on them at this time so they will associate it with fun and hanging out and not just work and having to do right. All my dogs burst with happiness when they see an e-collar come out now bc they know something fun is about to happen.
With guns I introduce them as everyone else, start from a long distance off. I prefer going to a gun range a time or two so I can focus on them only and not having to focus on fun retrieves or other people. Just loving on the pup. Then once they don’t even acknowledge the pops of a gun, I will start working in fun retrieves and bird boy thrown marks with a popper.
With equipment such a boats and 4 wheelers just turn the motors on and let the pup investigate itself. Don’t force them. Let them control the comfort level the first few times before setting them up to not be able to get away.
Basically I am all about a slow is smooth/smooth is fast approach with socializing.
Then once they are comfortable with all environments that they may be exposed to, I begin requiring proper responses to obedience in those environment based on age and level of training.
Another thing to never forget is other dogs and people. If a dog is doing something you don’t want your pup to learn, then don’t let them get exposed. And also, if someone if doing/treating your pup in a way that doesn’t uphold your standard mention it to them or remove the pup. It’s easier to do that than to have to untrain bad habits before getting a chance to teach them the right way.
Think of it this way “Every decision you make, standards you uphold, and what standards you choose to not uphold will affect how your dog performs 6-7 years in the future.”
All that may or may not have made since due to busy work and scattered thoughts lol. So if it didn’t don’t hesitate to ask for clarification.
- Rowdy Morgan Pipkin – I can attest to your statement Freddy King! I’ve taken Mack everywhere, camping, hiking new water ways you name it. Now Two guys in my duck club sent their pups to a trainer (they are 1/2 brother and sister, same stud) and now that they are back they are not nearly as confident as my dog! They spook when new things come there way at times according to my friend. They will probably work it out but we will see all these young dogs in action in a few weeks when we get water. I might be partial to my dog but following your videos I have strong feeling Mack will be just as good as their dogs if not better!
- Kim Yates– Early neurological stimulation with a program like Puppy Culture… (I only wish I knew about it 30 years ago). Pups are fearless and thoughtful on new adventures and new situations.