Nothing could be more important to any young life than to be loved and to learn the necessary skills to thrive in the world in which they live. Education is a lifelong process but there is a crucial period in a dog’s life where it is more important to receive quality information, this is the first 3 -12 weeks of life. The first 3-12 weeks of a dogs life are known as the sensitive period for learning. During this time explosive brain activity means that the puppies brain operates as a sponge mega-factory where it is absorbing information about all the sounds, smells, touch, visual and taste sensations that will make up its world. It is vital that during this time your puppy feels supported and that new experiences are part of a gradual introduction to the family. All the places, smells, sounds, visual stimuli and sensations that make up your world need to be introduced to your puppy through a very gentle process. This means addressing just a few of these new experiences each day. Here is a list of items to consider as part of your education program:
- People – all different shapes, sizes, ages, glasses, beards, hats, different skin tones, different coloured hair, tattoos, big boots, high vis jackets, walking aids, people on scooters, bikes, cars, skateboards….
- Places – rooms in your house, your neighbourhood, beach, local parks, Bunnings, river….
- Smells – perfume, cleaning products, deodorant, spice cupboard….
- Taste – fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, fresh protein (avoid tomato family, onion family, grape family, avocado and processed foods).
- Dogs – big dogs, small dogs, long dogs, long haired dogs, short haired dogs, dogs with long faces, dogs with short faces, old dogs, tall dogs, short dogs……..limit exposure to socially appropriate dogs please – think of other dogs as educators – do you like what you see? They will be giving social cues to your puppy….
- Household appliances: washing machine, blender, Thermomix, oven, microwave, vacuum, dryers, mops, brooms, television, radio, phones….
When was the last time you experienced something new? Do you remember how tired it made you feel? Be careful not to underestimate how hard it is for baby puppies to be exposed to something new. Be gentle, give lots of positive feedback (tasty foods please, pats and praise don’t always cut the mustard) and listen to them when they are telling you they are worried (see video 4).
Bamboozled? Kalmpets is here to help. We have a specialist pup program that can help you give your puppy the best education, setting you and your puppy up for a bright behavioural future. Please contact reception on 08 9240 2228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.