Training a puppy starts long before you arrive at an obedience class. Besides potty training and setting boundaries at home, early training should include plenty of socialization and new situations for your puppy to experience around the home and away from home.
The first time your puppy hears a doorbell ring or a loud garbage truck pulling up in front of your house to that first car ride or walk through town, it’s a new—and sometimes unsettling—experience for your puppy. But with positive reinforcement, a comfortable distraction, and some repetition, your puppy will become accustom to the situation and react in a positive way.
Here are ideas for ways your puppy can experience a range of new situations:
- Take your puppy to visit family members
- Set play dates with other puppies and dogs
- Enroll in a puppy socialization or puppy preschool program that offers plenty of time for discovery and free play
Holiday House Pet Resort & Training Center in Doylestown, PA hosts a FREE Puppy Social Hour every Thursday at 7:30pm. The focus is letting the puppies play freely and providing positive reinforcement during this period of socialization. Pet parents have the opportunity to talk with other pet parents and training staff about puppy care and behaviors. Puppies from 8 weeks to 5 months old are welcome to join the class every week. Call 215-345-6960 to register.
Around the Home
- Ring the door bell
- Use the vacuum
- Run appliances such as a garbage disposal and dishwasher
- Walk on different types of flooring: carpeting, rugs, hardwood, ceramic tile
- Introduce stairs with assistance—one or two steps into a family room is a good start
Around the Neighborhood
- Go for a walk in a different neighborhood—which might offer new friends to meet and smells to discover
- Visit the park—a great place to experience bikes, joggers, kids playing and other pets
- Go for rides in the car—the car should be linked to positive experiences, not just for that dreaded ride to the vet
- Walk through town on a busy Saturday—and visit a few pet-friendly businesses
- Sit at an outside café and watch people, pets and cars pass by—honking, loud music, busy sidewalks are many things your puppy should get used to if you like going places together
Did you know that Home Depot and Lowe’s are pet-friendly businesses? These are terrific places to take your pet to experience a little bit of everything! From a busy parking lot to the beeping of a fork lift in motion, any time is the right season to visit these businesses. And your puppy will get to greet lots of people—because who doesn’t like pay special attention to a puppy and chat with you in the middle of the aisle or while waiting to check out?!
Bob Wharton, Senior Trainer with Holiday House Pet Resort & Training Center, has extensive experience training and working with therapy dogs—including his own dog: When my dog Jackson was a puppy, I took him to Home Depot with me. As we were walking through the parking lot, a loose manhole cover made a bang every time a car drove over it. It was loud and unusual so we stayed in that area for a while so Jackson was able to hear the sound over and over again. He become more comfortable with the noise after hearing it many times. Something as simple—and annoying—as a loose manhole cover was a good opportunity for teaching my puppy.
- Veterinarian office – Of course your puppy will have plenty of experience with this place early on. Be sure to remain calm and treat it as a fun place. Our pets can read our emotions pretty easily so if you are worried or stressed, your puppy may react accordingly.
- Pet store – Another great place to casually stroll around and meet other pets and pet parents!
- Grooming salon – It’s never too early to introduce your puppy to the grooming experience. An early, positive start is a great foundation for a lifetime of grooming.
Liz Sines, Master Groomer, with Holiday House Spa on State in Doylestown, PA: The Spa on State likes to work with puppies early and keep them on a monthly grooming schedule for at least the first year of their life to teach puppies positive and safe skills for a lifetime of grooming. Our grooming staff lets the puppy set the tempo for a groom. An appointment may not always include a haircut, sometimes it might just be a nice bath. If sounds or touching the puppy in different places is upsetting, then we go slower using positive reinforcement.
Don’t be worried that your puppy is too excitable or wiggly for a groomer to handle. Professional groomers have lots of experience working with puppies. And don’t worry about your puppy missing you during time at the spa. By dropping off your puppy and coming back a bit later, you are strengthening the bond and trust between you by teaching your puppy that you’ll always return.
Training your puppy starts with providing a variety of people, pets and situations to experience. Let your puppy discover and play and become comfortable in a variety of situations. By spending a lot of time with your puppy, not only do you strengthen the bond and trust with your pet, but you are providing valuable experiences to build a foundation of comfort and life-long learning.
Holiday House Pet Resort & Training Center also offers group training classes and our popular Lodge & Learn and Play & Learn programs. The small group sessions are a small class size which offer more personal attention for a group setting. These include Puppy Preschool and Proper Petiquette. The other programs are perfect for pet parents that would like to lodge their dog or enroll their pet in the daycare program. The dog participates in multiple training sessions daily as well as enjoying resort activities and care.