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Puppies - First Impressions Really Count

There have been many studies on dog behavioural problems and most research shows that first impressions for a puppy are the most important things in their lives. These “first meetings” form the foundation for the way puppies behave throughout their lives and reputable breeders understand just how important this is, as such they begin socialising their puppies when they are as young as four weeks old. This sets puppies up nicely for life with their owners in their new homes.

If you are thinking about either buying or adopting a puppy from a rescue centre, you will have to continue socialising them by introducing them to as many things as possible which they may meet in their lives. This includes lots of different people, animals and different situations they may find themselves in. Only by doing this early will a puppy turn into a well adjusted and happy dog later on in their lives.

Introductions are an Important Part of Puppy Training

Introducing puppies to new things needs to be done with care so they don't get scared and this is especially true when they meet other dogs or animals for the first time. If you notice they are nervous about something, let them take the time to take it all in from a distance where they feel less stressed. Once they gain their courage and confidence, you can take them closer for a proper introduction without your puppy getting scared or anxious. Using toys is a great way of helping puppies overcome any sort of anxiety or nervousness they may be feeling which means it's always a good idea to have a toy or two with you when you're out and about with your puppy.

Take Puppy To the Vet

The best place for a puppy to get to see other dogs and animals as well as some very new and strange smells, is in a vet's surgery. You may not need to take your new puppy to the vet but a good practice would not mind if you dropped in with puppy when out socialising them. It's a great way for the people working at the veterinary practice to get to know your puppy which means if they need to handle them later on, it will be less stressful for all concerned.

A puppy that finds themselves in lots of different situations earlier on in their lives will learn to cope with them very well. The end result is they will get a lot more pleasure out of these same situations when they are adults and be able to take it all in their stride. The first few months of a puppy's life are crucial and it's when they need to be introduced to all the things that may prove scary to them later on when they are older and which could mean they end up with some unwanted behavioural problems.

Puppy Classes Are Brilliant

One of the best ways of introducing a puppy to other dogs is to take them to specially organised puppy classes. This is a great way of socialising them in one of the safest environments, and there are many of these classes organised all over the country. Taking a young puppy along to one helps encourage friendly behaviour, reducing the risk of behavioural problems later in their lives. The classes are run by true professionals who regularly attend dog training seminars themselves so you know you are in safe hands.

Below is a list of first encounters that are really important to a puppy. If puppies have a positive experience it sets them up well for their adult lives and they turn into well balanced, friendly dogs without any annoying behavioural problems.

Checklist First Encounters: People

Make sure you introduce your puppy to as many people as possible and this includes people in uniform, namely the postman. Other people you should make sure your puppy meets when they are young as possible include the following:

  • Elderly people with sticks or who are in wheelchairs
  • Noisy people – this includes children
  • People wearing hats
  • People who wear glasses
  • People carrying large bags
  • Men with beards
  • Delivery men
  • Joggers
  • People riding bikes, scooters, skateboards
  • People pushing prams – wheelbarrows
  • People in uniform

Checklist First Encounters: Animals

  • Other dogs
  • Other pets – rabbits, cats, guinea pigs and any other small domestic pets
  • Horses and riders
  • Wildlife and livestock

Checklist: Places to Visit

  • Vets
  • Kennels
  • Grooming parlour
  • Schools & playgrounds
  • Visiting people's homes
  • Restaurants, cafés, pubs and hotels that are dog friendly
  • Shops & markets
  • Walks along busy pavements
  • Parks, woodland & countryside
  • Show grounds, boot fairs and fêtes

Checklist: Everyday items & objects

  • Vacuum cleaners
  • Wheelbarrows
  • Brooms
  • Kitchen appliances that make strange, loud noises
  • Hose pipe
  • Strimmer
  • Lawn mower
  • Bikes and children's toys

Checklist: Early training

  • Wearing a harness or collar
  • Walking nicely on a lead
  • Being brushed & groomed
  • Being bathed
  • Being handled by strangers – important when they need to go to the vet
  • Being examined by the vet
  • Travelling in a car
  • Being left on their own

Conclusion

The more things you introduce your puppy to at an early age, the less scared they will be of things when they are older which could lead to them developing annoying and unwanted behavioural problems. The early weeks in a puppy's life are all important and a good, reputable breeder knows this. They will have socialised their puppies but it is up to you as the new owner, to continue their training and introductions. However, it is really important for you to make sure each first encounter your new puppy has is a positive experience and one they will look forward to a second time around.


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