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 response.
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 everyone.
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 called.
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 uses crates.
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
There is more good information on feeding
your puppy on my Information page.