We all long for a well-behaved pup. What most dog owners don’t realise, however, is that this is determined by the amount of exposure your dog gets to social settings from an early age. Whilst it’s true that some dog breeds possess genes of better temperaments, for example, the Maltese or Golden Retrievers, socialisation and training are also major influences on a dog’s temperaments. This means that if you’re willing to put the effort in, you can determine your dog’s fate. There are lots of great ways to train any dog – regardless of breed or sex – to be friendly around both humans and other pets.
Raising a friendly dog is firmly within your reach and should by no means be a cause for concern for new owners. By taking on board professional advice from dog-loving experts, the process can be simple and straightforward.
Here are 5 of our favourite tips for raising a well-socialised pup:
One of the most important stages of any dog’s life is the early developmental period. During this time, a puppy will learn the appropriate etiquette for socialising. Through interactions with their mother and siblings, traits such as confidence, bite inhibition and the ability to be submissive are acquired.
Waiting 7 to 9 weeks will ensure your dog is mentally mature enough to face any new challenges alone and begin their proper training. If a puppy is taken away from their mother or the rest of their litter too early on, they will not have had time to learn the fundamentals of socialisation. Without these basic tools, your dog training journey may prove significantly more difficult. But don’t worry – it’s never too late to socialise your dog.
Once in their new home, exposing your dog to lots of new sounds and smells will help to quickly develop their awareness. Simple tips like playing loud music around the house, purposely ringing the doorbell and regularly exposing them to electrical items (such as a hairdryer or vacuum cleaner) will make them more comfortable in different settings. If you can train your dog to react appropriately to unfamiliar smells, sights and noises, you’re already halfway there.
If you’re the owner of an older dog with social issues, it’s even more important to stay calm and be patient when trying to teach them to respond to new situations in a suitable manner. Be prepared that it may take a longer period of time and a lot of repetition to train them out of their old habits. Perseverance is key.
Inviting a fully-grown pup over is a great way to reinforce canine etiquette in a secure environment. Once your dog has been vaccinated, going for regular walks will not only build a routine but also allow them to mingle with a wide range of different breeds.
Whilst it’s recommended to ignore any anxious behaviour, it’s important to watch out for aggression. Luckily, violence can be tamed and deterred if detected quickly. However, if hostile behaviour does persist, you should seek expert help or consider temporarily using a muzzle to prevent any unfortunate incidents.
If you don’t quite feel ready to take your dog on their first walk yet, puppy classes (or obedience classes for older dogs) provide a welcoming, safe environment for off-leash engagement. Whether you’d like to work on specific aspects of socialisation, such as mixing with certain breeds or even other owners, or improve your dog’s overall behaviour, training classes are perfect for providing the confidence and obedience needed for daily activities.
In most cases, you’ll notice a huge difference in their behaviour after just a few sessions. However, even if at first your dog seems unsettled, it’s definitely worth persisting with the classes to give your pooch the opportunity to grow. You never know; your pup may even begin to imitate the behaviour their fellow four-legged friends as they become more comfortable in the presence of others.
Encourage friendly responses by redirecting their bad behaviour and rewarding any good behaviour. There are plenty of ways to reward your pooch. For example, giving your dog praise and affection, or providing tasty treats.
After a short period of time your dog will soon understand how to please you, which will help to improve communication between you and your dog, creating a strong, long-lasting bond. Once all rules have been established and your dog has developed a deep understanding of what is right and what is wrong, their long-term memory will overrule any future mischievous temptations, meaning you shouldn’t have to re-teach any behavioural skills.
Positive reinforcement plays a vital role in not only socialising your dog, but also creates a foundation for teaching your dog new tricks. Whether you dream of your pooch becoming the next Crufts champion, or simply long for a well-behaved family dog, positive reinforcement can work wonders when it comes to dog training. To find out more about training your dog, check out our latest article Top 5 tips for training your dog.
After following these helpful tips, acknowledging your own capabilities and implementing the relevant strategies, you will be setting yourself up to create the perfect family dog.
It’s true that genetics may influence certain behavioural patterns in puppyhood, such as your dog’s enthusiasm for different activities or the way your dog interacts with strangers, however, a good owner can maintain control and persevere at all times.
If you’re curious to predict your new pup’s current temperament, why not consider temperament testing? Temperament testing is a popular technique among breeders due to its ability to reveal valuable insights. The process simply consists of exposing a young puppy to a variety of different experiences and assessing their immediate reactions. For example, does your puppy cope well when being touched? Or how do they react when placed alone in a strange location? There is no scientific evidence to prove temperament testing provides a reliable, accurate insight, there is no doubt that it will give you some hints.
Ultimately, your dog’s temperament will be a combination of both genes and their wider environment. So, take on board professional advice and set your pooch on the right path from the very beginning.
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