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Socialization

        As a Certified Dog Trainer, I have worked with many families to help foster a healthy relationship between them and their dogs. A puppy’s training should begin as soon as he or she becomes a member of your family. A LOT of your puppy’s training has already started with the puppy’s Mom, the rest of the litter and the breeder. The early learning that your puppy experiences within the first few months after birth is some of the most important learning your puppy will do in his or her whole life. It truly lays the foundation for all other training and socialization.

 

  

The optimum time to socialize a puppy is in the first 5 months.

 

 

  • The Fear Imprint Period takes place between 6 and 10 weeks of the puppy’s life. During this period, puppies are extremely impressionable and sensitive to both positive and negative experiences. Avoid strong corrections while training (yelling, choke chains, squirt bottles, noise makers, etc.) This is also a bad time to try getting your dog used to guns. Gun shyness is VERY hard (if not impossible) to reverse so it’s easier to avoid the problem altogether.

     

  • The Optimum Bonding Period begins at 7 weeks. Interactive experiences with humans should be positive, mild and gentle.

 

  • The General Socialization Period is between 7 to 16 weeks of age. Owners should take every opportunity to socialize their puppies to as many new and varied situations as possible. 

 

 

Proper socialization is the act of teaching a dog not to react by desensitizing him to the things he will encounter in daily life. It is probably the single most important thing an owner can do to guard against fear and aggression. It entails:

 

  • Positive exposure to many different situations and environments.

  • Introducing these situations at the dog’s pace to avoid negative reactions. Depending on your dog’s personality, he may need a little extra time to get used to/explore different things.

  • Exposing the dog to different environments in small increments and helping the dog make positive associations. Never force or overwhelm the dog. This may cause a fearful or aggressive reaction.

  • The puppy should always appear relaxed and happy during socialization. Look for any cowering, cringing, shaking or freezing up.

  • If a puppy becomes tense, nervous or frightened, the owner MUST NOT soothe him. This will only imprint the fear reaction. Instead, redirect the puppy’s attention onto a food treat or toy. Then, calmly get the puppy out of the situation and decide how to reintroduce the puppy to the same situation in smaller steps.

  • Only expose your puppy to friendly dogs and people. Make sure the people understand how important it is to be gentle and give the puppy space. Food treats are a great motivator for positive interaction. If the puppy will not take a food treat, he is probably stressed out and should be removed to a distance where he feels safe.

  • Expose puppies to as many different people as possible. Tall people, short people, kids, people wearing hats, men with beards, people with glasses, etc.

  • Wirehaired Pointing Griffons are a very “people-oriented” breed and, therefore, it is especially important for them to be socialized with other friendly dogs of all sizes. Having said that, please ask your vet about keeping your puppy safe from disease before he has had all his vaccinations. Puppies should only be exposed to healthy, vaccinated dogs to avoid exposure to Parvo and other illnesses.

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