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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 dog.

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 experiences.

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 home.

"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 enjoy.

To previous article Socialization Part 2 or to the first article Socialization Part 1

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