Adventures in Puppyland
Meet the newest addition to our household! Phoebe is a ten week old lab/hound mix. She's got a lot of confidence, and LOVES to play. Regis has taken to her very well. The cat, not so much, but we'll get there.
The last few weeks have been very humbling. As a dog trainer, I'm always giving out advice and best practices for puppy raising, but usually at the end of the day I go home and don't have to deal with the typical puppy issues. Well, now that's changed and what a challenge it's been! Over the past several weeks I've been working with Phoebe on learning some manners, getting used to a routine, appropriate play with her brother (someone's been in a few time outs this morning!), and potty training. Additionally, we've been working extensively on socializing to a variety of environments, people, dogs, and handing procedures.
Since I brought Phoebe home at 8 weeks old I have been especially focused on socialization. Remember, socialization is a puppy having positive experiences with many new things, teaching the puppy that novelty is actually a great thing, rather than something to be worried about. This socialization should happen during the "critical period of socialization", which is the time in a puppy's life that they're most open to new experiences; for most puppies that period lasts from age 4 weeks to about 12-16 weeks. After that, puppies begin to be less open to novelty and it is harder to make positive first impressions. Many fear-based behaviors (including but not limited to aggression) are due to a lack of socialization. Since obedience is something that a dog can work on their entire lives, I am for the most part holding off on those exercises. She's learning sit, down, and touch, but I won't even worry about the other behaviors until after I'm sure we've made good progress on her socialization.
So what kind of things have I been working with her on? We've experienced or met: other dogs, cats, unfamiliar men, unfamiliar women, several children, many different surfaces, landscapers, traffic, car rides, crate time, several new houses, a lake, a pontoon boat, and handling procedures such as nail trims and ear cleaning.
She struggled the most with heavy traffic, so I've been working a lot on proper exposure to traffic at a distance, working with Phoeb