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Puppy training and socialisation

You will probably be reading this after having acquired your new puppy, and we hope all is going well so far. This information is intended to help you get the most out of your puppy and bring him/her up to be a well-balanced and happy pet. If, however, you have not yet acquired your puppy, this will give you an idea of what will ideally happen when you decide on a breed and locate a breeder, and what is involved in responsible puppy ownership.

3 to 6 Weeks of Age

Puppy training and socialisation

At this time you can help the development of your puppy to be. Visit him regularly and get him used to being gently handled. Place him on the floor to experience different surfaces. Get on the floor with him, back away and say "Come". Start toilet training by praising him when he urinates and defaecates outside the nest and use a command word to encourage this. Food can be used as a reward. Decide on a name for your new puppy and use it when training him to follow you. Progress with toilet training by taking him outdoors to an area similar to where you will want him to "eliminate" when you take him home. Offer food from your hand whenever you visit the puppy at the breeder's premises.

The puppy may still be with his mother at this stage and will watch her behaviour and learn valuable lessons from it. When the time comes for you to take him home, ensure you have everything ready - a comfortable bed, a good supply of suitable food and some worming medication if he has not already been wormed. Do not transport him within 6 hours of eating, and keep him occupied with play and contact during the journey. It is helpful to get someone else to drive! As soon as you arrive home, take him outside to a similar surface to the one he was trained to eliminate on and use the command word. Have food available as a reward. On the first day it is far better to have no casual visitors and to keep to the routine established by the breeder.

Close contact is necessary at this stage. Until 10 weeks of age the puppy can sleep in your bedroom in his basket. Initially he will not sleep through the night so prepare to be disturbed and to take him into the garden in the small hours.

Within 2 days, take your puppy to your vet for a check over and to start vaccinations, enabling early socialisation. We recommend vaccinations are given at 8 and 10 weeks of age. At this time we will be able to advise you on worming, feeding, flea treatments etc and answer any questions you may have.

9 to 12 Weeks of Age

This is the mid-point of the socialisation period. It is now time to introduce others into his care and training. Ensure consistency. If the puppy has been without contact from other animals, introduce him to cats or adult vaccinated dogs, but be sure to observe carefully. At this age most puppies like to carry things, so you can start teaching him to "fetch" when he brings objects to you. Encourage him to start to sleep in his basket or crate in a different room from your bedroom. Buy a collar and lead for him (make sure it's a very light one), and continue training in the garden. Car journeys can be introduced regularly, ensuring they are always short, and not immediately after a meal.

13 to 16 Weeks of Age

Heel training should be well established and you should be able to leave puppy for up to 3 hours at a time. Ensure you spend at least an hour a day in further training; agility training and climbing can be introduced at this stage. To prevent him jumping up as a greeting step back. It is now time to join a dog-walking group or a puppy play group. Continue the games of fetch. On the roads, train puppy to sit at kerbs. Towards the end of this period, walks can be extended to 1-2 miles depending on size and breed.

17 to 20 Weeks of Age

Puppy can now be left for longer periods, and it may be possible to recommence working half days. Full time work and puppy ownership are not really compatible. Introduce puppy to water so he can learn to swim. Some breeds take to it better than others! Groom him daily, get him used to having his ears cleaned and his teeth brushed. You can introduce longer car trips, and continue your role as a "providing manager".

This regime can be modified to suit your individual situation. Dogs are adaptable and all is not lost if your puppy missed out on some of these early experiences. But do remember, the opportunities of youth only come once. Please contact us if you require any further advice.

Animed Veterinary Group is part of CVS (UK) Limited, a company which owns over 300 veterinary practices in the UK. Company Registration Number 03777473. Registered Office CVS House, Owen Road, Diss, Norfolk, IP22 4ER