Puppies aren’t ‘programmed’ with the social skills they need to live in a human family, so breeders and trainers often refer to the process of socialisation – which really means how a puppy learns to behave in a wide variety of settings, such as meeting new people, meeting other dogs, or seeing the vet. More challenging environments include being in a crowd, walking near noisy traffic, or travelling in a car. So, your puppy will need plenty of support as it finds its way around lots of new and exciting environments.
Take your puppy outside first thing in the morning, and even if it’s just your own garden, keep them on a lead at first to help them focus on the job at hand - otherwise they may run off to explore. When they’re very young, let them outside every 2 to 3 hours through the day, then as they get older, they’ll be able to ‘hold it’ for longer. All dogs learn at different speeds, and you’re bound to experience a few ‘accidents’ along the way. But don’t punish your puppy for making a mess inside - it’s not their fault. Just stick to your routine and they’ll soon get it.
Many of the behaviours that come naturally to a dog aren’t appropriate within a home - particularly one with young children. So, it’s very important that you quickly teach your new puppy the difference between right and wrong. Most puppies will instinctively enjoy mouthing and play biting, chewing shoes and slippers, or stealing food. And while this may seem cute in a puppy, it may not be appreciated once a dog is fully grown. Make a fuss of your puppy when it’s good but be firm in preventing undesirable behaviours. Punishing a puppy can seem harsh, so if you spot them being naughty, distract them with a toy and praise them when they’re settled.
If you’ve recently become a dog owner for the first time, you might feel that you lack the skills and experience to turn your new puppy into a good canine citizen – and that’s where professional help can come in handy. Many new owners benefit from attending training classes, and time spent in the company of other dogs can help your puppy’s socialisation too. All classes vary, but you should generally expect to focus on getting your puppy to respond to its name, to come back when called, to sit and stay on command, to walk calmly on a lead, and to behave politely around people and other dogs. Puppies learn quickly, so it’s important to begin training as early as possible - as soon as their vaccinations are complete.