by Brian DeMartino January, 13 2022
One of the biggest issues that my clients have with their dog is behavior issues that all stem from fear, nervousness, and insecurities. At an early age it is very important that your puppy gets exposed to all of the things which I call environmental stressors, but in the right way. You also want to do it in a safe way being careful to not let you puppy out or near any other dogs that you do not know that are in good health (I use family and friends dogs that I know very well) and you want to keep your puppy away from any other animals feces because she can become very sick if she ingests it.
Habituation is a gradual decrease in responsiveness to a stimulus as a result of repeated
exposure to that stimulus. That means that the more your puppy is exposed to all of the things that adult dogs commonly runs away from or are spooked by will not happen to your puppy as she gets older. Common things can be banging noises, or noises, fireworks, meeting new people, meeting new dogs, walking on new surfaces, being in new environments, being around landscapers and their equipment, the mail person, being examined by the vet, being groomed, being handled, thunderstorms, kitchen equipment, and the list goes on and on but you get the idea. If you put this work in with your puppy at an early age between 8 weeks and 7 months you and your puppy will benefit so much from doing that.
So what is the right way to expose your puppy to these things? You want to make sure that the noises, etc are not too intense or loud depending on how sensitive your pup is. You want to work at greater distances from what it is or have the volume where your pup hears or recognizes it but not to overwhelming. Treats are a big part of what trainers use to whats called desensitize our puppies to these stimuli. Using high value treats while puppy is around these things helps her to associate it with something positive.
Bringing you’r puppy to the veterinarians office and groomers when she does not have an appointment and give some treats when there and hand some to the workers and have them give some treats helps form that trust in those places.
The majority of dogs that I have to help fix aggression or other behavior problems from is because the steps above where not done and then the behaviors spiral out of control. Make sure before you get your pup you do your research and get prepared for what your plan is and it will male things so much easier and you will have a puppy that grows into a confident and well behaved dog.