Puppy Training Starts with the Breeder
The personality and temperament of your dog will depend on several factors. It starts with breeding, you want to make sure the sire and dam are even tempered, gentle towards people, kids, dogs and comfortable in various social situations.
But if your puppy has not had a good start very early the training challenge may be more difficult. It’s not just breeding that makes a good do it’s environmental stimulus and proper dog socialization training.
Does the breeder know the importance of when to start socializing puppies?
Early Puppy Neurological Stimulation
It is proven, in both human infants and newborn puppies that early stimulation of the neurological system (the brain and nerves) can influence intelligence and future ability to learn and process information.
Military and service dog organizations use various puppy training programs to develop highly intelligent working dogs and responsible dog breeders take this phase of life very seriously.
How to Start Neonatal Puppy Training
What age should you start training your puppy? The answer is, the breeder should have already started the puppy training process.
Our puppy training schedule starts on the day they are born with the following activities.
I majored in Animal Science and when we decided to breed our Boxer Leah I decided I was going to use the same animal training philosophy used raising foals and horses.
Newborn animals need to be handled often and all over their bodies. The military developed a Bio-Sensor program which consists of exercises performed on each puppy every day through the first three weeks of life. Each exercise is performed for only 3 to 5 seconds.
- Tactile stimulation: Hold the puppy in one hand and tickle it between the toes on any one foot (a cotton swab can be used)
- Head up position: Using both hands, hold the puppy perpendicular to the ground so its head is directly over its tail.
- Head down position: Holding the puppy in the same position as in exercise 2, gently bend the head down so the nose is pointing toward the ground.
- Supine position: Place the puppy on its back in both your hands, so it’s parallel to the ground.
- Thermal stimulation: Cool a damp towel in the refrigerator for five minutes, then place the pup on it, feet down.
Secrets to training you puppy
Studies showed that not only could puppies cope with stressful situations better but they could also problem solve better than other puppies.
In addition, they were also physically healthier with higher cardiovascular performance, stronger immune systems, adrenal glands and heart beats. Assistance dogs are well mannered and good manners don’t magically appear.
We encourage our puppy families to visit and to hold all the puppies.
At least twice a day each pup is handled and cradled on a daily basis. Their little feet, ears, and bodies are rubbed, stroked, and manipulated until they are comfortable, relaxed, and yield to the touch. Each pup learns to fall asleep on their backs with either their belly, head, or chest stroked.
How to Socialize a Puppy
Our puppies have an 8×12 foot room in the basement connected to the back door. It really is a back entry “mud room” area which we converted to the puppy room.
They have access to assorted blankets of different textures in the nursery and as they grew a kennel crate was then provided for Mom and puppies to sleep and nurse.
As soon as they open their eyes, and become mobile, I add balls and toys. I make fleece dog toys and encourage them to follow the toy in my hand and play tugging games.
The puppies are more interested in playing with each other than toys the first few weeks. They have plenty of room to learn to jump, climb, and ample space to sleep together in a giant puppy pile or apart.
Potty Train Boxer Puppy Right From the Start
The Boxer pups on the left are four weeks old and they spend most of their time sleeping on blankets inside their kennel crate. As soon the pups start climbing out of their nursery pool the I place a large wire dog crate in the puppy nursery area.
I like using bath mats and large quilted pillow shams as bedding. It’s soft, easily washed and fit perfectly inside their comfortable dog kennel.
Putting a thick layer of newspaper at the front of their dog crate gives them a distinctive place to pee and poop. You can also use puppy training pee pads if newspapers are hard to find.
I’m not going to say they learned house training this quick, the newspaper was there as a suggestion.
We place newspapers outside the crate. All over the room at first. Gradually we reduce the area and the newspaper is only by the door.
By the time the Boxer pups are 6 weeks old most of them pee immediately after letting them outside in the morning.
At 9 wks the pups did their business on the newspapers 95% of the time.
Kennel Training Puppy
I’m a firm believer in kennel training a puppy early. Kennel training puppies should be stress-free and a part of their daily environment.
Puppy kennels and crates are a place to call their own. It’s a safe place, it’s their den. Dogs don’t like to soil where they sleep and it becomes one of the important puppy training tools in their new homes.
Puppies can also be very mischievous and get into trouble. If you work you during the day there is no way you can supervise puppy play time, and coming home to the kitchen trash all over the house is NOT enjoyable.
A crate, or kennel, serves as a short-term “time out” training tool.
If dogs learn at a young age that a crate is not scary or dangerous it makes transporting your dog less stressful.
Even after your puppy is house trained it’s a good idea to keep the crate door open with a comfortable bed inside. Many dogs love the security a den provides and will go in voluntarily to take a doggy break from the ruckus of an active household.
When to Start Weaning Puppies
How I decide when to start weaning puppies is when they are enthusiastically eating solid food. This is usually at four weeks.
At just 10 days of age, the Boxer pups start to follow Mom to the food bowl and nibbling on the small pieces that fall on the floor.
I soften their puppy food with water and wait for it to turn to mush.
Soon they eat like pros. I soften their puppy food the first couple of weeks, but at 2-3 weeks their teeth come in and they begin eating more food and nursing less.
When to Start Socializing Puppies
We didn’t set out to “formally educate” our puppies. But it is what we ended up doing. By using common sense puppy training tools we make sure our pups are fully socialized with other dogs and their littermates so they will be great pets when they go home.
A well-raised puppy makes a wonderful companion dog. If you are looking to train a service dog ask the breeder about their puppy training program. It is important.
Many people who train service dogs for Assistance Dogs International understand the importance of early socialization. They react to situations with a calm attitude and are dependable in every situation.
It is our hope that our puppy families would have a good foundation to continue training and their dog will be a good canine citizen.
Learn More About Puppy Training for Service and Assistance Dogs
Some parents read all the child rearing books and do everything by the book. This is not our philosophy in puppy rearing or puppy training.
But, we do understand the importance of the puppy socialization period and expose our pups to a myriad of environments, people, and stimulus.
I am very proud of them when they go to their new forever families. If you want to read more on newborn puppy training or training a pup for a future as a service dog these organizations below are a wealth of information.
- The Infant Puppy (not just for service dogs)
- Canine Companions for Independence
- Hero Dog Puppy Program
- Guide Dogs of America Puppy Raising
- Guide Dogs of America Raise a Puppy Program
- Early Scent Introduction
Books on Training Your Puppy
The best puppy training books are those that teach positive training methods and respect for the dog and their human family. Books are a great place to start. If you like more personalized training then a local obedience club is ideal.
You can even get free online dog training tips which can be invaluable when your trainer is not available.
The Art of Raising a Puppy (Revised Edition)Training the Best Dog Ever: A 5-Week Program Using the Power of Positive ReinforcementThe Happy Puppy Handbook: Your Definitive Guide to Puppy Care and Early TrainingK9 Behavior Basics: A Manual for Proven Success in Operational Service Dog Training (K9 Professional Training Series)