They have had ten week old puppy Cavapoochon, Isla, for less than two weeks.
Already she takes herself out to toilet. She sleeps through the night, no mess. A dream of a puppy.
A ten week old puppy and socialisation
‘Puppy Parenting’ isn’t only about changing things she’s doing now, it’s also about avoiding certain things happening in the future.
The main and most important thing that should start, ideally even before puppy leaves the breeder, is socialisation.
People can assume socialisation to mean meeting some other dogs but it’s a lot broader than that. It also involves meeting people of all different sizes and ages, traffic, noises and so on. The PPG (Pet Professional Guild) has a very ambitious checklist.
This isn’t as easy as just ticking off things from a list.
It’s important that these encounters don’t frighten a ten week old puppy. People she meets should be gentle and quiet with her. Over-boisterous dogs or bullying puppies avoided. They should pair anything slightly scary with food – at a comfortable distance – before attempting to get closer.
This leads me to something many people are resistant to.
Rewarding the puppy with food is proved to be the fastest way to motivate and teach her. Rewarding with food shows the puppy what you DO want rather than what you DON’T want.
The delivery has to be instant – no time to walk across the room and open a tub.
They can cut up tiny bits of something nourishing, soft and nutritious and wear a treat pouch or similar. I recently discovered Feelwells grain free treats. They can be broken up tiny and Isla loved them.
Every time they ask Isla to do anything, they will reward her. Every time she happens to be doing something they like they reinforce it.
The power of food and motivation was demonstrated while I was there. Early on, the teenage daughter wanted Isla outside for a toilet break. She called her, but it was more fun indoors with us and Isla ignored her.
A little later, after we had been working with food on something else, the daughter called her outside. She went out with her immediately.
The only thing the ten week old puppy does that the family would like to change is nipping – particularly feet.
Isla only becomes nippy when people come home or when they have visitors. She then goes for feet. They are a household who take their shoes off indoors and Isla loves toes and socks!
They are already, a couple of days later, resolving this by dealing with the excitement that causes it. When anyone comes in they tone down their welcomes and avoid stirring her up. At the same time they have something ready that she can chew instead.
A puppy tornado!
A ten week old puppy may suddenly race around through the house and garden like a little tornado. For some reason this often happens in the evening.
When she’s all fired up with excitement, they will give her something she can attack or destroy! I suggest a ‘rummage box’ – a cardboard cartoon containing rubbish like water bottles, cardboard tubes and bits of food so that she can chew, rummage and wreck.
Clever puppy Isla caught on to clicker training straight away, like she was born with it! She was soon lying down and even learning ‘touch’, touching a hand for click and reward. Isla found this fun. There should be no pressure on a ten week old puppy to learn tricks. There is plenty of time later to teach ‘commands’ (which I prefer to call ‘cues’).
Being left alone
Preempting future separation problems is very important. She needs to get used to being happily left alone for short periods without pining. They are already achieving this, particularly at night.
Isla has finished her injections now and can walk outside.
Like many people, they started by attaching a lead. This will feel very odd to a ten week old puppy and Isla plays tuggy with it.
To my mind, putting the lead on first is the wrong way round to do things. First they should be walking around the house and garden with Isla beside them – off lead. This is achieved with kissy noises, calling her, patting legs and food.
Soon she will learn that walking near to somebody is fun. She won’t need coaxing unless she wanders off to do something else. Only now is the time to introduce the lead – carrying on exactly the same way as before.
I demonstrated and the daughter copied. Isla quickly caught on.
Heel work is pointless and unnecessary for a ten week old puppy. Walking happily near to someone on a longish lead will make walking a happy experience. Later on she can be taught to walk to heel for when it’s important, near traffic for example.
Twelve week old puppy
When I next visit the ten week old puppy she will be about twelve weeks old.
We will do more work on her lead walking, paying attention, coming when called – and clicker training.
NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’. Listening to ‘other people’ or finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good. Click here for help.