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Puppy sponges

Puppies between the ages of 3-12 weeks are sponges for new information. This is also the most critical period for them to be exposed to as many of the contexts that they will see in their adult lives in order to produce well-adjusted dogs. New challenges and experiences, lots of human TLC, dog-dog socialization and practice being alone are all important parts of a puppy’s development and failure to provide them to your new family member may result in a dog with major issues.

Some of the most forgotten stimuli for producing super puppies are things they will experience in their environment, particularly objects or noises that may appear suddenly. How to prepare your pup for a future of environmental uncertainty? Try some of these fun exercises:

 

Scary Objects

Dogs may be frightened by the most ordinary objects if they have never seen them before. Start a collection of “scary objects” that include cardboard boxes, an umbrella and a skateboard. Each day, place a new scary object in the middle of the living room and let your pup investigate it. Don’t force him to approach the object, let him go at his own pace.

Dogs perceive things like a man wearing a hat as a scary monster with a giant head. To help your puppy get used to “abnormal” humans, put on a silly hat, cape, cane, or other piece of clothing and interact with your puppy!

Noises

Puppies need exposure both to sudden loud noises and to more steady noises they will hear in daily life (like cars, trains, vacuum cleaners, etc.) These days you can purchase a noise desensitization c.d. that contains recordings of different common noises. Buy one (or more!) and play it for your puppy. If you are feeling more ambitious, create a playlist of scary sounds on your mp3 player or computer!

Buy or borrow a few instruments and objects that make “scary” sudden noises such as a horn, a bell, an (empty) pop gun, a megaphone with different alarm sounds, and more. Using these noise makers we can mimic an environmental change by making each noise suddenly when the home is quiet.

 

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