Raising and training a pup to be people-friendly is the second most important goal of pet-dog husbandry. Remember, teaching training a puppy not to bite children inhibition is always the most important goal. But during your pup’s first month at home, urgency dictates that socialization with people is the prime puppy directive.
Your puppy must be fully socialized to people before he is three months old. Many people think puppy classes are the time to socialize puppies to people. It’s too little, and too late. You now have just a few weeks left to socialize your puppy.
Unfortunately, your pup needs to be confined indoors until he is at least three months old, when he has acquired sufficient immunity through his puppy shots against the more serious dog diseases. Consequently, there is considerable urgency to introduce your puppy to a wide variety of people-to family, friends, strangers, and especially men, and children. As a rule of thumb, your pup needs to meet at least a hundred different people before he is three months old-an average of three unfamiliar people a day. By eight weeks of age, your puppy’s Critical Period of Socialization is already waning and within a month, his most impressionable learning period will start to close.
There is so much to teach, and nearly everything needs to be taught right away. A dog with a good temperament can be a dream to live with, but a dog with a tricky temperament is a perpetual nightmare. Your pup needs to socialize with at least a hundred different people before he is three months old. I know this may sound like a bit of an ordeal, but it is actually quite easy to accomplish.
Twice a week, invite different groups of six men to watch sports on TV. Initial impressions are important, so make sure your puppy’s first meetings with people are pleasant and enjoyable. Have every guest handfeed your puppy a couple of pieces of kibble. Make sure to invite a number of different people to your home each day.
It is not sufficient for your pup to meet the same people over and over again. Your puppy needs to grow accustomed to meeting strangers-at least three a day. Give every guest a bag of training treats so that your puppy will be inclined to like them from the outset. Each time the puppy approaches, have him sit. As the puppy raises his nose to sniff the kibble, he will lower his rear end and sit. If the puppy jumps up, you are holding the food lure too high. Repeat the procedure with the food closer to the pup’s muzzle.
Now have the puppy come, sit, and lie down. As the puppy lowers his head to follow the food, he will usually lie down. Now teach your guests how to train your pup to roll over. Repeat the come here, sit, down, and roll over sequence until the puppy responds reliably, and then help each guest practice these maneuvers until each one can get the puppy to come, sit, lie down, and roll over three times in succession for a single piece of kibble. If your puppy is regularly handfed dinner by guests in this manner, he will soon learn to enjoy the company of people and to approach happily and sit automatically when greeting them.
And, of course, as an added bonus you will have successfully trained your family and friends to help you train your puppy. Even well-socialized adult dogs may get into trouble, since much that children do excites dogs and incites them to play and chase. Puppies and children must be taught how to behave around each other. For puppy owners with children, the next few months present a bit of a challenge. It is infinitely worthwhile, however, because puppies successfully socialized with children generally develop exceedingly sound temperaments-they have to-and once they mature there is little in life that can surprise or upset them. Puppy owners without children have a different kind of challenge. You must invite children to your home to meet your puppy, now!
However, unless your child-training skills exceed your puppy-training skills, initially invite over children only in small numbers. To start with, invite only a single child. First, invite over only well-trained children. Supervise the children at all times. I repeat, supervise the children at all times. Later on, puppy classes will offer a wonderful source of children who have been trained how to act around puppies and who have been trained how to train puppies.