Part 3 Puppy Socialization -
Introduction & Cradling
by Patty Mead
The off-leash period will again be the first activity. Your
puppy will have already started pulling at the leash to say hello
to each of the other puppies that arrive for class. As soon as
the trainer yells "off leash" your puppy will bolt for
friends, a place to hide, or to bully other puppies. Again, you
will be instructed to cradle and the trainer will handle each dog
and speak with you about the activities of your own puppy.
As the trainer (and helpers) evaluate the cradle some will
comment if your puppy is still struggling too much or snapping at
the handlers. It is a good idea to take their concerns to heart!
I have seen too many puppies that I knew once they grew up, they
would wind up in the pound because their owners did not follow
instructions and teach them to behave. Please take all the
comments to heart and lay down a good foundation for you and your
A reminder will be give to take your puppy with you wherever
you can. Now is the best time to get your dog used to riding in a
car, visiting peoples homes, walking along crowded sidewalks,
etc. Your puppy needs to be introduced to new sights and sounds
to help prevent it from reacting with fear to new situations. We
want the puppies to have an expansive horizon so that they can
come to expect the unexpected and not be frightened of new
Then you will each be given the opportunity to show off how
well your puppy has progressed as you demonstrate the
sit-down-stand commands for the group. The trainer will then ask
you to vary the routine: for example, instead of sit-down-stand
you may try down-stand-sit. Most likely, 99% of the class will
find that their dog will do the sit-Down-stand routine but not a
variation. This means the dog knows the routine but not the
individual commands. Thus, the next homework will be to vary the
routine. Ask the dog to sit; later practice stand; then try
down-stand, etc. In short. practice the individual commands with
your dog. you will also o be asked to practice in a variety of
places, your house, yard, the park, your friends house, etc.
The next tow commands you may learn ore walking on leash and
"off". In my ind walking on leash is fairly easy. The
idea is to have a good collar (but not a choke chain) and a
solid, fiarly short leash. The puppy should wlak with you and not
pull or dragt. At theis point, this is NOT a "heel"
just a casual walk). Again, pracite with the puppy by taling it
with you whenever you can and walking in a variety of places.
(Just remember to bring plastic sacks to pick up ater your
dog...I remember when my dog went right at the entrance to a
restaurant...). I have foudn that if the puppies are give
reasonable exercise, a casual walk is easy to do. However,m if
they have not received the exercise they need, a puppy walks
becomes a struggle. Thus, I would exercise the puppies like
normal and take casual walks as additional trianing sessions.
The "off" command is a crucual one to a puppy's
health. It can actually help save the puppy form hurting itself
or others. The "off" command means to stop whatever you
are doing or leave whateer you are about to get into alone.
Sometimes this is tarught by using a food lure. Put the lure in
front of the dog's nose and as the puppy goes for the lure yell
"off". As the puppy shies away prainse it. Then use a
specia word or phrase such as "take it" or
"purple" to indicate that the puppy may have the lure.
Some trainers do not like this technique. They beliee it may
teach the puppy that "off" is generally followed by
approval to continue doing what you wanted to do. Generally
speaking, in real life, when I say "off" I never follow
with an "okay take it" command. For example, the dog is
about o belly up and roll on some dead creature on the beach. Do
I yell "off"? You bet. Do I then follow with an
"okay"? No way! So, antoher way people tech the
"off" command is to have each owner bring in an item
the puppy likes a lot, like a toy. Place them all in the center
of the room and then have each pyppy individually walked around
the perimerter of the pile. When the puppy shows interst in its
toy the oner yells "off" and continues to walk around.
Priase is given if the dog shies away from the pile of toys.
Should the puppy show interst again and tries to get the toy the
whole room may yell "off". Generally thi is enough and
the puppy will ignore the toy. One the puppy can go around the
perimerter without tyring to get at the toy the next dog is
called for its turn. At the end everyone picks up their toy to
tak home and the dog is not allowed to play ith it unti they are
"Off" is taught many ways. Our job here is not to
express an opinion on which way is best, but to prepare you for
the socialization classes and to introduce you to the concepts.
So remember to practice, practice, and practice some more. But
also remember to make the practice short as well as fun,
otherwise it will soon be a chore niether you nor your dog will
To previous article Socialization
Part 2 or to the first article Socialization