Here are three important steps to get started with your young puppy:
1. Prevent Jumping Now!
First, you can start preventing jumping up on people. This is a common problem in dogs, especially if they are high energy, active dogs but if you start now, you can actually prevent this behavior.
You just need to remember that your puppy needs to be invited to put their paws on you or think of it as saying “Please”. Just wait for you puppy to sit and then “click” with a clicker to mark the behavior OR say “Yes”! followed by a treat at first. (I recommend a clicker because it is scientifically proven that your puppy will learn faster). Then use a release word, such as “Free” to let the puppy know that they can stop sitting. Follow that with a word such as “UP!” and some motion to show the puppy, they can jump in your lap.
Here is a summary of the steps:
- Puppy sits
- Click or say “Yes” to mark that the correct behavior was done
- Release word such as “Free” or “Ok”
- Invite your puppy into your lap, to jump up, play with a toy or some other rewarding behavior
If your puppy jumps in your lap without being asked then simply take your puppy off of you, or make it impossible for your puppy to jump into your lap or up on your legs. How??? Just stand up or go behind a gate, for example. Even turning around can be enough so they stop.
Watch carefully and be ready – I mean ready – to catch them going into a sit because as soon as they do, you can “click” or say “Yes” and then reward with the invitation to get in your lap. Sometimes you can play with a toy instead or do something else with your puppy. This way, they won’t automatically be trained to sit, be released and jump on you! That’s not what you want either!
Do you need to treat them? Not really because the reward is being close to you and in your lap, for example. But at first, it is helpful to mark the sit and reward with a treat to begin the habit. It helps you remember too! 😉 After you’ve done this several times, you won’t need a treat – the reward is affection, praise, your lap, a toy or another “prize”
OH, and don’t forget your release word!
This might seem tedious at first and you might forget sometimes, but don’t give up. The payoff is HUGE! People will love your dog because of their manners. Your dog will also be safer to be around, especially if you have a large dog around small children.
2. Start Socializing Your Puppy
From 8-12 weeks, socializing your puppy is extremely important BUT many people make the mistakes of thinking socialization means exposure. It doesn’t. Just exposing your puppy to all kinds of things doesn’t make them accept them all! You need to expose them to things they comfortable with!
Remember that… Your puppy MUST be comfortable with the exposure. If you introduce your puppy to a policeman dressed with a heavy belt with tools, a helmet and sunglasses, you could very well terrify your puppy and traumatize them to the police. You don’t want that! If your puppy is terrified of police, they may bark, lunge and threaten policemen.
So if your puppy showed some reluctance to meet a policeman, you can try a week later or see if you can introduce them to a policeman without sunglasses (look like big scary eyes to a puppy!) or without a helmet. Remember helmets, backpacks, heavy coats and other items can change the shape of the person so your dog may wonder if that is actually a person or another scary animal.
Another example is a hairdryer. Start from a distance and on low speed to judge your puppy’s response. Only expose them to what they can easily tolerate. If they are a little hesitant, pair it up with treats or a toy to associate the scary item with something positive.
But there is no need to rush! If you see any fear or reluctance, your puppy could be in a sensitive “fear” period so wait a week and try again.
Plus, not too much at once! You don’t need to expose your puppy to 100 new things in a week. Some say to do this but really, it depends on the puppy. Just like people or children, we all have a tolerance level so be thoughtful and honestly, kind.
Also, be mindful of safety. Your puppy’s immune system is not fully developed and vaccines may or may not be fully protective. After the first vaccine, start socializing with some exceptions. This follows the guidelines based on research, set by the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association), AVSAB (American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior), AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) and other behavior professionals but as said, with some exceptions when other dogs are involved.
Until your puppy’s vaccines are finished, only introduce them to other dogs or places where dogs are healthy and vaccinated. Thus, your friend’s house with healthy vaccinated dogs? Yes. A class in a facility where vaccination and health are required for attendance? Yes. Dog parks? No. Pet Stores? No.
With that in mind, expose your puppy to all you can, especially in the 8-12 week period and also important during the 12-16 week period but with safety first.
3. Make Sure Your Puppy Gets Enough Rest
Puppies grow fast. Very fast. So your puppy needs lots of good nutrition. Most people understand that but many forget that rest is also required for growth. But you won’t, right?! 😉 Your young puppy may need to sleep 20 hours per day! That’s a LOT of sleep!
Play times should be short with breaks for to potty. Your children and others especially need to be monitored with your puppy so your children don’t overdo it. You definitely want to expose your puppy to children, including babies and toddlers but just keep the socializing fun for both your puppy and the children.
Oh, and note… a tired puppy is usually a biting puppy. (Even if your puppy doesn’t “look’ tired!”
- Your puppy can be easily taught that jumping on you is by invitation only.
- Socialization your puppy is very important but must be done right.
- Make sure your puppy gets lots of rest.
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