Puppy Socialization

There is not much cuter than a ten week old Leo puppy.  But these puppies grow so fast that soon that cute little bundle of fluffy fur will be  all grown up.  One of the most important things you can do for your puppy is socialize, socialize and socialize some more.  Leo puppies need to experience a wide variety of activities when they are young and the more positive experiences they have the better equipped they will be to cope with the world as adult dogs. Each and every experience needs to be positive with your Leo puppy feeling secure in the environment.

The goal of socialization is to let your puppy encounter as many new and different people, places and things as possible so that he can get along well in the world. It is important that each experience is pleasant and non-threatening. If your puppy’s first experience with something is frightening, you can create a life-long phobia or fear of that thing, instead of helping your puppy to be comfortable with it.  Controlled positive socialization is the best way to ensure a happy well-behaved adult dog.  To begin fill your pockets with lots of yummy treats and go out with your puppy so he can meet new people and encounter new sights, sounds and environments. Do this every day. This means letting your puppy see and hear all kinds of different things.  Use treats and praise to make each and every experience fun and happy for your puppy!

By the time your puppy is 16 weeks old, your puppy should have:

•  Gotten a treat or been patted by many different friendly people.

•  Walked on at least 10 different surfaces, such as grass, pavement, rocks, sand, wood etc.

•  Heard many different noises and responded positively to them.

•  Seen hundreds of different sights.

•  Should have been to at least 20 different places (be careful though if your puppy is not completely vaccinated).

•  Should have met many many well behaved and friendly dogs (be careful though if your puppy is not completely vaccinated).

•  Should have had positive encounters with any critters that you hope your puppy will be kind to later in life including cats and kittens.

•  Should be used to being touched, tugged, poked, prodded, and generally looked over, including looking in the ears and the mouth and holding the feet and rubbing the head.  The importance of handling your Leo puppy cannot be understated.  Your little puppy is going to be BIG and you and your vet will need to be able to poke and prod your Leo everywhere.  You need to ensure  your Leo puppy is easy to handle in any situation.

Puppy training should include a wide range of handling, always positive. Avoid punishment or unpleasant outcomes that might lead to fear. Each time your puppy is in a mood for affection, treats or play, practice stroking or touching a different part of his body, or practice lifting him or have him lie calmly in place on his back, belly or side. If he enjoys this, gradually progress to other forms of handling and restraint. If he resists or becomes anxious, gradually repeat the handling using treats to make it enjoyable. Also, consider using favoured rewards while brushing, bathing, nail trimming, rubbing the gums and teeth, cleaning the ears or around the eyes, or place a treat in his mouth to mimic giving a pill.

There are many other aspects to bringing up a puppy to become a good canine citizen.  Bite inhibition and resource guarding are two very important behavioural issues that every puppy owner needs to learn about. We strongly recommend that everyone who is thinking of adding a puppy  or has added a puppy to their family read the famous books by dog behaviourist Dr. Ian Dunbar that are downloadable below.

Dr. Ian Dunbar is a veterinarian, animal behaviorist, and writer. Dr. Dunbar received his veterinary degree and a Special Honors degree in Physiology & Biochemistry from the Royal Veterinary College (London University) and a doctorate in animal behavior from the Psychology Department at the University of California in Berkeley, where he spent ten years researching olfactory communication, the development of hierarchical social behavior, and aggression in domestic dogs.

He has allowed the free distribution of two of his books and we have posted them here. They are amazing primers for all new and old puppy owners so please download them and read them thoroughly and enjoy the soft and respectful methods used in these very helpful books.

BEFORE You Get Your Puppy – This book is a must read for anyone thinking of getting a puppy.  With a little preparation, you can raise a dog that never makes a single house-soiling or destructive chewing mistake, is calm and quiet on command or when home alone, and is gentle and confident around people.

AFTER You Get Your Puppy – This book describes how to properly housetrain and socialize your puppy, starting from the first day your puppy is home.  It covers: destructive chewing, socialization, preventing aggression, bite inhibition, on-leash walking, recalls, preventing adolescent problems and the importance of an off-leash puppy socialization and training classes.

The books above are fairly large in size so be patient when downloading – they are worth the wait!

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