Raising a Confident Dog!
by Emily Freeman // December 2017
Raising a Confident Dog!
Shaping the ideal dog takes a little bit of time and effort, but is well worth the investment.
When you picture a family dog, you think of a happy, confident hound that embraces life and enjoys all of the activities that its human does. Go shopping through a crowded street? Sure! Have a blast on the beach with doggy friends? Bring it on! Hang out with the extended family at Christmas? Brilliant!
This is what we imagine as we collect our bundle of fluff to bring home for the first time, and it is certainly why many of us get a canine companion in the first place. However, sculpting our dog into one that not only tolerates but actively enjoys these experiences takes time and a bit of planning.
Dogs do not naturally agree that just because Uncle Brian is your mum’s favourite brother he should be accepted into the house as one of the family, or that fireworks are wonderful things. We ask a lot of our pets, and it is only fair that we prepare them as well as we possibly can for all that life with us will throw at them.
“What is THAT?!” Help your pup learn that new things are great!
This is where socialisation comes in.
Socialisation is not throwing your pup into new situations and expecting them to deal with it – it is engineering scenarios so that your puppy has the best possible experiences of new things. During the first sixteen weeks of your puppy’s life he or she will form opinions that will last into adulthood about what is safe and enjoyable and what is scary and to be avoided. Things that are not seen during this time (whether it is men in hats, children on scooters, or thunderstorms) will often be grouped into the “scary” category, and you will find yourself with an adult dog is a bundle of bouncy fun at home but who frets and worries when out and about.
So, what can we do?
Luckily, socialising your puppy is easy! Arm yourself with some tasty treats and head out. Get your friends to feed your puppy, slip him a treat if a car whizzes by, and ensure that he meets some nice calm dogs who he can build his confidence with. You are aiming to make every interaction your pup has with new and potentially alarming things not just a neutral event, but an actively positive one. If you don’t have children, seek out some friends with kids who would be happy to reward your pup. If you live in the countryside, go into town so you can praise your pooch for watching the bustle of the bright lights. In short, make a list of everything you might encounter with your dog in the future or expect them to cope with and seek out those situations and make sure your pup comes away thinking, “Hey, that was great, when can I see x, y, or z again?!”.
It might seem like a lot of effort to go to and you will certainly have to work hard to fit a lot into their first couple of weeks, but it will pay dividends in the future. With a few weeks’ work your darling dog will be the one showing off to all his puppy pals how brave and confident he is, and you can relax in the knowledge you’ve set yourself up for years of fun and adventure with your furry friend!
Cool, calm and collected is the way to go!