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The Secret to a Confident Pup- Socialisation and Habituation

By By Sue Williams Bsc. Chairwoman GODT (MT). MCFBA, Canine Behaviourist & Trainer, CEO Guild of Dog Trainers 2 years ago 6824 Views
When you welcome a new puppy into your home your role as a new puppy owner is one of an educator. Assuming you have sourced a well bred, genetically sound pup: how confident and well adjusted the puppy develops, is really down to you.
It is essential for your puppy to learn to adjust to new environments as well as get used to lots of different people, dogs etc so they grow up to be confident and happy.
Optimal Socialisation Period

Habituation and socialisation refers to the processes of exposing and getting a puppy used to everything they may encounter in their life. In effect you are bomb proofing them so they develop into a confident sociable pet. The best time to start, to ensure the best results, is during what is termed as the optimal socialisation period, which refers to the time the puppy is 4-12 weeks old.  Although this is a key time, it is imperative that you continue to socialise your puppy right through to adult hood . Research has shown that if a pup is socialised initially, then has no exposure it will be virtually as fearful and as unsure as a pup who has never had the early socialisation.
My pup Taggie

Before Taggie was fully vaccinated I carried her around getting her used to new places . This meant she was safe but still able to experience the sights, sounds and smells of everyday life. I started in quiet places and built up to busier ones. It was imperative that these experiences were positive and she wasn’t scared. This was particularly vital with her due to her initial set back due to an illness at a very young age. 

Once Taggie was fully vaccinated she was able to walk on the ground safely. This can be quite scary at first for some pups. It is important that you don’t overwhelm them and look at things from their perspective which is very different to ours.  For her first outing I took Taggie to a local tourist village which was ideal as it has lots of open areas meaning I could acclimatise her to traffic from a distance. Additionally it is dog friendly with many shops welcoming dogs.

I have carefully controlled Taggie’s socialisation and habituation journey so she has had lots of positive experiences. I have used Natural Instinct Beef Jerky, Taggie’s favourite treat, to help me in two ways;  to reinforcing a confident response from her and to create positive associations.
This approach has been extremely successful resulting in Taggie developing into a really happy, confident pup. She is now 4 months old and last weekend I was so proud of her as she joined my Shadowquet Dog Display Team at the Thame Country Show and together we demonstrated puppy foundation training.

For some delicious Natural Instinct treats to use whilst training go to here.
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