Puppy Rule of 7 – Socialization


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The Rule of 7’s

Starting with a young puppy offers the opportunity to make a lasting impression that shapes their personality and how they cope with stress. Proper socialization through early and positive experiences can result in a happy, adaptable dog that is comfortable in various environments. Without socialization, dogs may become fearful and reactive.

Ensure your puppy has positive exposure to people, places, surfaces, sounds, and temperatures to give them the best possible start.

The couple months home your new puppy should experience the following:

List of experiences a puppy should have:

  • 7 different surfaces (carpet, concrete, wood, vinyl, grass, dirt, gravel, wood chips)
  • 7 different objects (big/small balls, soft/fuzzy/squeaky toys, paper/cardboard/metal items, sticks/hose pieces)
  • 7 different locations (front/back yard, basement, kitchen, car, garage, laundry room, bathroom)
  • 7 different people (children/older adults, someone with a cane/wheelchair/walker)
  • 7 different challenges (climbing, tunnels, stairs, obstacles, hide and seek, doorways, fence)
  • 7 different containers for eating (metal, plastic, cardboard, paper, china, pie plate, frying pan)
  • 7 different locations for eating (crate, yard, kitchen, basement, laundry room, living room, bathroom)

Reinforcing Good Behavior:

Puppies want attention. They will do a lot to get that attention sometimes — even if it is negative!

If you scold your puppy for doing things you don’t want them to do, and you ignore it when they are being good, you may end up unintentionally reinforcing their bad behavior which can eventually turn into ongoing bad habits, essentially, you are training them to be bad.

Reinforcing good behavior is a key component of training puppies, as it encourages them to repeat actions that are desirable and helps to establish good habits early on. Here are some ways to reinforce good behavior in puppies:

  1. Use positive reinforcement: Positive reinforcement is the most effective way to reinforce good behavior in puppies. This involves rewarding your puppy with praise, treats, or playtime when they perform a desired behavior, such as sitting or coming when called.

  2. Be consistent: Consistency is essential when reinforcing good behavior. Always reward your puppy immediately after they perform the desired behavior, and use th same reward every time to avoid confusion.

  3. Use a marker word: A marker word such as “yes” or “good” can be used to signal to your puppy that they’ve done something right and that a reward is coming.

  4. Keep training sessions short: Puppies have short attention spans, so keep training sessions short and focused to avoid overwhelming them. Five to ten minutes per session is usually sufficient.

  5. Avoid punishment: Punishment is not an effective way to reinforce good behavior in puppies, and it can actually cause them to become fearful or anxious. Instead, focus on rewarding good behavior and redirecting undesirable behavior.

  6. Make it fun: Training should be a fun and rewarding experience for both you and your puppy. Use toys, treats, and positive reinforcement to make training enjoyable for your puppy.

Reinforcing good behavior is an ongoing process, and it’s important to be patient and consistent. With time and effort, your puppy will learn to behave in a desirable manner and develop good habits that will last a lifetime.

What if your puppy shows fear while being socialized?

brown Labradoodle Puppy in the car

It is not uncommon for puppies to show fear or anxiety while being socialized, especially if they have not been exposed to certain experiences before. However, it’s important to handle the situation carefully to avoid worsening their fear or causing them unnecessary stress. Here are some tips to help your puppy overcome fear during socialization:

  • Move slowly: If your puppy seems nervous or scared, slow down and give them time to adjust. Don’t force them to interact with anyone or anything that they’re uncomfortable with.
  • Use positive reinforcement: Reward your puppy with treats, praise, or playtime when they approach and interact with new people or pets. This can help them associate positive experiences with socialization.
  • Avoid overwhelming them: Don’t expose your puppy to too many new experiences at once. Gradually introduce them to new people, pets, and environments, giving them time to adjust before moving on to the next experience.
  • Stay calm: Dogs are sensitive to their owner’s emotions, so if you’re nervous or anxious during socialization, your puppy may become nervous or anxious as well. Stay calm and relaxed, and project positive energy.
  • Seek professional help: If your puppy’s fear or anxiety persists, consider seeking the help of a professional dog trainer or behaviorist. They can help you create a socialization plan that’s tailored to your puppy’s needs.

Remember, socialization is a gradual process, and may take some time for your puppy to become comfortable with new experiences. Be patient and consistent, and your puppy will eventually learn to enjoy socialization and become a well-adjusted adult dog.

You might also be interested in The Rule of 12 post and the PUPPY SOCIALIZATION CHECKLIST 100 EXPERIENCES IN 100 DAYS.


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