by Blacks Vets
The CRUCIAL timeframe to get puppies used to as many things as possible, is up to 16 weeks old. Anything we experience in a neutral or positive way then, we should accept without fear when we are older. Blacks have made a fantastic checklist to help new puppy owners expose their dogs to as many positive experiences as possible at this time.
Puppy Parties were a great way to do this while we were really young, especially before our vaccinations were completed. We were also introduced to farm animals, busy streets, loud noises, unusual people, handling, grooming, alone time… loads of things while we were tiny. Our mom even chased after dustbin lorries while we were babies so we would not be afraid of them later!
There is only so much you can fit in before the magic 16 weeks though! Even things we did experience before 16 weeks get reinforced better and better with each repetition while we are still young.
We have been to our first festival! We started with a village music festival and it was very strange as our usual park was RAMMED with lots of strangers, food stalls (mmmm), other dogs, and LOUD music. Lots of praise, treats, drinks, and occasional escapes to ‘space’ all helped us take it in our stride. There was nothing that could have prepared us for the shame of watching Mummy dance, but the rest was all cool.
We also went to a village fete where there was a dog show! Freda was up for showing off… but Bert got a bit too excited by being with the other dogs for so long (and so near to a tempting river to swim in!) Mom and Dad took us away while it was still a fun experience and before we got stressed. We think it was in case Freda won ALL the rosettes and the locals ran us out of their village!
We made some new friends… and some enemies! The friends were ANY people and ANY dogs. Freda is a flirt who presents her belly to every passing dog. The ‘enemies’ included a tortoise who could beat a hare ANY DAY and scared the life out of us. We were not welcome in her run, and she let us know… should have seen us run!
The other enemies did not chase us…. In fact they didn’t do anything… just looked scary! After a cocophony of barking and the humans laughing, we realised the bears were in fact an ornament… NOT FUNNY! May just have the chew them the next time we go to Grandad’s house…
Other highlights of the summer’s positive puppy experiences include getting used to camping… apparently not the WHOLE field is our territory to defend(!) so we were exposed to this young, and rewarded for accepting other people and dogs going past our pitch. We had the last laugh, when Bert managed to get his tethering spike out of the ground when the family were not looking, and went wandering around the campsite dragging it behind him!
Foraging has got to be Bert’s favourite pastime… winberries and blackberries were added to our diet with our humans worrying about picking up our poo the next day! Luckily they did not affect our tums, but we were not allowed to over indulge.
While we are young we need to continue experiencing as many different experiences as possible, as positively as possible. We have not heard fireworks yet, but have been listening to them so when the time comes we should find them…yawn… boring. Wonder if we can sneak digging holes in the garden onto the essential experiences list?
Love and licks,
Bert and Freda xx