Celia Haddon - Cat Expert

Understanding animals through their behaviour


Danny at ten weeks. Copyright:Elaine Henley

  1. A puppy needs to have met a minimum of 10 different people, preferably 20, before the age of 12 weeks. Some people say it should be 100 different people! Introduce your puppy to children, men, women and the postie in her/his uniform! Nice video about this here.
  2. If possible a puppy needs to meet a friendly but assertive cat that will not run away from him (keep him on a lead). Other good animals to meet include horses and (if you have them) house rabbits and parrots.
  3. Hold your puppy and restrain her as she is held. Do not let her wriggle free. There will be times when a dog needs to be held firm and restrained (like at the vets). She must learn not to wriggle. If you let her go when she wriggles, it teaches her to wriggle more. So wait till she stops wriggling, then let go.
  4. Groom your puppy almost every day even if he is a short coated breed. Pick up and look at his feet. Pretend to cut his nails. Look in his mouth and clean his teeth with doggy toothpaste. Inspect his ears. Look under his tail and his belly. You must teach him to get used to being handled everywhere on his body at any time you choose. Use treats to help him learn to like it.
  5. A puppy needs car journeys. Just little journeys to shops and backs – not necessarily long ones. Take your puppy with you by car as much as possible in the back either in a seat belt, crate or hatchback. Make sure that most of these trips are not trips which end in a walk. If he thinks all car trips end in a walk he is likely to become too excited in the car.
  6. A puppy needs to learn about traffic as early as possible, even before vaccination. Put on a lead and collar (put the lead securely on your wrist as a safety measure) and then take your puppy in your arms and walk along the pavement as normal. If possible she should hear farm machinery and snorting lorries going past. Don’t put her down on verges or pavements where there have been other dogs which might leave infection behind them.
  7. After vaccination take your puppy to towns and on crowded pavements. Take him to dog shows, boot sales, farmers’ markets, race meetings, or other social occasions. Take him anywhere that you go.
  8. A puppy needs to get used to noises. Noise-proof her now. Buy an audio CD from www.apbc.org.uk and play this quietly at meal times, slowly putting the volume up every week till the noises are the same strength as in the real world. If she is fearful, you have gone too far too fast. Turn down the CD player and start again at a lower volume.
  9. Leave your puppy alone for some time every day. He needs to learn that being left alone is OK. Leave the radio on and install a DAP Diffuser to give him confidence during your absence. The RSPCA has some good instructions here.
  10. If you have another dog, then make sure you spend twice as much time playing with your puppy than the other dog does. Otherwise your puppy will bond with the other dog more than with you. You want people dog, not a dog dog. When you play games with toys, tease the puppy with a toy, or hold him back so he can’t immediately go to it. This will teach him to tolerate frustration.
  11. As soon as her vaccinations are complete, a puppy needs to meet friendly adult dogs of various ages and sizes and breeds. When she gets older and more pushy, do not interfere if the adult dogs have to discipline her with a growl or even a snap in the air. It will teach her doggy manners. Just meeting her everyday companion dog is not enough. She needs to meet others too. But make sure these are friendly and calm dogs.
  12.  Puppy classes are a great help. Investigate before you take your puppy. A free-for-all with puppies roaring about is not a good idea – there are bad puppy classes like this. Puppy classes should be controlled. There should never be more than three dogs off the lead at any one time. Ask to sit in on one if need be before committing yourself. A good UK trainer should be a member of the apdt. Be wary of puppy classes held by trainers who use check chains (out of date and sometimes cruel), or trainers who believe in pack theory, dominance and punishment (out of date and sometimes cruel).  Check out classes held by breeders or staff from veterinary clinics just as you would any other trainer. Vet staff without apdt membership or other behaviour qualifications sometimes have no idea how to run puppy classes properly.

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