Keeping puppies entertained

Puppy Socialisation Program in the Puppy Centre

The program was researched and created by Dr Helen Whiteside, Helen is the Chief Scientific Officer with Guide Dogs UK. The training of the puppies begins at 15 days of age until they leave our Puppy Centre after eight weeks of age.

The program’s aim is to expose pups to novel objects, substrates and various people within this window period. During this time, pups are extremely dependent on their mothers for learning, nutrition and growth. During this crucial learning stage, they grow out of infancy and learn to explore and play with their siblings. Positive human interaction should take place during this time with as many different looking people as is safe; one must remember that a pup’s immune system is not yet mature which places the pup at risk of different diseases so care must be taken.

Different people helping out in puppy block

Puppy’s brains develop fast with neurons connecting. This is what we want to strengthen and exposure is done by building on the different aspects, for example; day one will allow for 10 minutes of “work” such as:

  • Pick puppy up
  • Stroke puppy by hand wearing a rubber glove
  • Examine the body from face to tail running your hands along the body
  • Gently examine pups ears and gums
  • Encourage pup to walk over carpeting and rubber mats
  • Get your cell phone ringtone to ring at a low volume
  • Jangle a set of keys near the pup
  • Have a one on one play session with a soft toy
  • Roll items within pups reach
  • Introduce pup to a carry crate that has mom’s scent in it
Puppy sleeping on soft blankets
Puppy looking into a mirror
Puppy enjoying some body rubs
Puppy getting used to the tiles

The specifications above at this age are done in close proximity to their mother from day 15 to day 21.  The program above will continue with a sound cd playing in the background at a low volume using sounds such as traffic, children playing, baby crying, dogs barking, etc.

From day 22 the above will continue with additional aspects such as introducing puppy to a height using a table and beginning to recall puppy from a short distance away by use of clapping whilst calling “puppy, puppy” in an excited tone of voice, then giving pup enormous amount of praise for coming to a person.  Every few days as puppy becomes bolder; different surfaces, novel objects and expectations are added.  Repetition is extremely important in ensuring confidence and understanding by puppy.

The Socialisation Program is run on weekdays. Weekends are downtime for relaxation, play and time spent learning behaviours from their mother.

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