Socialization means being exposed to a variety of people and situations, to become accustomed to them. For young puppies, between four and 12 weeks is a
critical stage for socialization, and is a period when they quickly absorb new information. Puppies that are not sufficiently socialized during this time are very
likely to grow up fearful and unsure of themselves, people, and their environment. Since fear is often at the root of aggressive behavior such as fear biting,
proper puppy socialization is even more important.
How to properly socialize your puppy: You want to slowly introduce your puppy to noises, people and places, and make the experiences enjoyable. It doesn't do
any good to expose your puppy to, say, a room full of very loud children who pull on the puppies ears - that's terrifying, not socializing! As you expose your puppy
to noises, places and people, praise or reward the puppy for any appropriately friendly response. If your puppy responds fearfully to anything new, remove your
puppy from the cause but avoid 'reassuring' him or her, which is actually praising the puppy for acting scared.
Keep in mind that puppies must be kept safely away from areas where un-vaccinated dogs may have been, until their last series of puppy vaccinations are
effective. Typically this is around four months, but verify with your vet for your puppy. No parks, walks or contact with the ground outside your yard and house or
your friend's until that time. Puppy socialization will help you end up with a happier, better pet for everyone.
Noises: If your puppy lives in a quiet room, set up a tape player to play normal household noises: doorbells ringing, vacuum cleaners running, doors slamming,
toilets flushing, music playing. Start out at a low volume and over time raise it to a real-life level. Bring the puppies to different rooms so they can hear the noises
and acoustics of various spaces. Take them for a pleasure ride in the car to expose them to outdoor sights, sounds and smells. Further widen their horizons by
taking them for an outdoor walk in your arms one at a time if weather permits.
Places: take car rides (using a crate is best), visit friends, pet supply stores, and, once vaccinated, parks, beaches, dog parks, the vet's waiting room, everywhere
and anywhere dogs are allowed.
People: aim to introduce your puppy to at least one new person a day for the first few weeks. A store clerk, the mailman, your neighbors, your neighbors kids,
friends, family, strangers walking down the street. Encourage petting, and as with noises and places, praise or reward the puppy for any appropriately friendly
Other animals: if you want a dog that is friendly towards other animals, such as dogs and cats, and you don't have any of your own, you'll need to find a way to
regularly expose your puppy to them. Training class is a great place to start for other dogs, especially classes just for puppies. Cats that live with dogs already
can 'train' a puppy usually within a swat or two to keep their nose and teeth to themselves!
Raising a Puppy
These guidelines are not a complete guide to raising a puppy (there are entire books devoted to that topic!) but will get you off to a good start. They are
arranged along a timeline, starting at the age of 8 weeks, the earliest age at which most people would be bringing a puppy into their home. If your puppy is
slightly older, but missed out on the earlier stages (or you don't know if they did), as long as they are under five months old, these steps can still be followed.
Prepare for puppy's arrival
Being prepared can mean the difference between getting a good start, or getting started off on the wrong paw. A puppy needs a safe, warm environment. Being
raised indoors with as much human contact as possible is critical at this stage
Puppy-proof a play area. Puppies will chew everything, from electrical wires to socks and shoes.You need a secure, puppy-proof, enclosed area or crate for
those times you cannot directly supervise your puppy. Puppies typically are not housebroken, and should be kept in an area when it is ok to have accidents.
Establish a daily routine from day one. A puppy feels secure having dinner, playtime, lessons and walks at the same time each day. Also, spending all weekend
with it when you first bring it home, then leaving Monday all day can cause lots of anxiety! If you do bring it home on a weekend, leave it alone for progressively
longer periods of time. Schedule your puppy feedings so that all are done by about 5-6 pm if you go to bed at 11, and very little water after that. Be regular about
your (and your puppy's) bedtime and time getting up in the morning, to help your puppy learn to hold it through the night.
Establish your house rules. If you do not want your adult dog on the furniture or jumping up, do not allow the puppy on the furniture or to jump up. Ask all
visitors (and family members!) to follow your house rules. No matter how cute it is when he's tiny, most people do not want their full grown dog jumping on
Crying, whining and barking - depends your puppy's age, temperment and experiences. "The WORST thing to do is to let the puppy holler for a long time, and
THEN go let it out or give it attention. When you do that, you teach the puppy to PERSISTENTLY make noise in the crate, because you have shown the puppy that
persistence pays! You don't want to respond quickly to a puppy making noise in the crate, provided you are sure the puppy's needs have been met."
Basic commands at any age
At the minimum, your dog should learn to come when called, walk on a leash and sit/stay.
Never repeat a command. Repetition is dulling, and the puppy ignoring you when you say "come here come here come here" is training him NOT to come when
Try saying "come here" in a fun, high tone of voice every time the puppy starts running towards you,and give the puppy lots of rewards/tummy rubs/verbal and
food treats whenever he comes running to you. Say "good sit!" everytime the puppy sits.
If the puppy does something undesirable, be firm but avoid a harsh tone and never yell and NEVER use physical punishment. Punishment and yelling serve only
to make your puppy act afraid of you. Cowering does not mean your puppy 'knows' he did something wrong, he is just reacting to your voice right at the moment.
It will not help it learn what is the right thing to do.If your puppy is cowering when you are verbally correcting him, use a softer tone of voice.
Be consistent. Always use the same command to elicit the same result. Don't use the same word to mean two different things. When you say "down" do you mean
lie down or get off the counter?
2 to 4 months old
Socialization at this age is critical. Time spent with the family means the puppy will become comfortable with the sights, smells and sounds that people make, and
grow up accustomed to them, rather than afraid of them. Puppies can usually be left alone 1-2 hour for every month of age (ie, a 2 month old puppy can be alone
for 2-4 hours). Leaving young puppies alone for too long means they are not being properly socialized. Try to plan your absenses during naptime, or play with
your puppy to tire it out before leaving.Using toys to entertain while you are gone, make time alone easier. Crates can make being alone less frightening as well.
As soon as you get your puppy home, start right in on practicing housebreaking, the more often you take your puppy outside the quicker he will learn
what is expected of him. If you don't have a fenced in yard, always put a collar & leash on your puppy to protect him from running away or getting in the
way of a passing car. This can happen in the blink of an eye. Your puppy will have to go potty 15-20 minutes after drinking water or eating his meal. If you
are able to take your puppy outside at least every 2 hours that would be a great start. If you catch him in the act, just pick him up give a firm no and take
him outside to the yard and give him the command word, something like, go potty good boy, then give praise and a special treat for a reward, this helps in
letting your puppy know he has done something very right. Don't ever spank, slap, scream at him, or rub his nose in it, this is very detremental to the
process, and he will loose his trust in you and cause a great setback. Housebreaking may take 2 weeks or up to several months depending on each
puppy and their new family. Just remember repetition & frequency is the key to your success. This can be a very trying period in a puppy's life for both
the new owner and the young pup, who's trying its best to please his master.
Why use Crates?
Dogs are den animals and feel secure in small enclosed spaces. By nature they will avoid excreting waste in the place where they den and prefer it to be
as clean as possible. Dog crates make excellent dens when sized properly. The idea that placing a dog in a crate is cruel is a common misconception.
Crates should be used throughout a dog's life and the sooner you introduce your dog to their own crate the better off you both will be. A dog's instinct is
to please their owner and most problem behaviors occur while the owner is away. If the dog is in a crate while you are away problem behaviors are
avoided and they usually spend most of this time sleeping. Introducing your pet to a crate is one of the best steps you can make toward a properly
balanced dog. Crate-trained dogs also travel easier with their dens since they feel secure. This also helps when visiting the veterinarian or groomer who
Crate training is the easiest method to housebreak your dog. When returning home, remove your dog from the crate and immediately take them to your
chosen spot and encourage them to "go potty," or whatever command you feel comfortable with. Allow them no more than 3 to 5 minutes to potty, not
play. If unsuccessful, start the routine over with more crate time. Keep in mind the age of your puppy and how long they may be able to hold their bladder.
Dogs vary, but as a rule a 3-month old puppy should be able to last through the night. Also, it's never too late to start using a crate; older dogs may
require more time to acclimate. It is also important not to show excitement when removing them from the crate, rather use a soft subtle tone or say nothing
until at the potty spot. Excitement can cause many small dogs to experience submissive urination, a behavior that can be difficult to break. Likewise, while
placing your dog in the crate before you leave, it's best to remain calm.
The crate should be just big enough for the dog to walk in, turn around, and lay down. It is okay to purchase the size crate that will suit the dog's needs
when fully grown. Using a divider to control the amount of crate available is a good idea while your puppy is growing. Don't use a crate that is too big or it
will defeat the natural "den" instinct. Your pet may use one end of the crate to go potty instead of exercising bladder control.
Where Should the Crate be Located?
Position the crate in an area that is easy to supervise, not in an isolated area. At night your bedroom is an ideal place so the dog can feel secure near their
owner. Avoid drafts or direct heat, and experiment with crate drapes on the top and/or sides for added security. Multiple crates throughout the home
makes training much easier. Be sure to never leave a puppy unattended. If you can't watch them -- crate them.
Spaying and Neutering
We suggest that you have your puppy spayed (females) or neutered (males) at a young age. Generally, about 6 months of age is recommended for poodle
or yorkie puppies -- but we suggest you speak with your veterinarian.
Important note: if male puppies are neutered at a young age, generally six months, it will help to prevent them from developing the habit of lifting their leg
to leave a territorial "marking" when they are older. They will continue to squat to go potty.
There is more good information on feeding
your puppy on my Information page.