Here at Bruce’s Doggy Day Care, we’re always being asked how to train puppies. And given they can be quite a handful in their early years, it’s understandable why!
Puppy training should actually go one step further, however, and factor in puppy socialisation, which refers to the process a puppy undergoes to learn key doggy life skills.
The core period for this is from birth to 14-16 weeks. And for the first 6-8 weeks (a puppy should not leave its mother before then) it’s very much down to its mum and siblings.
Which is why we only take on puppies at doggy daycare from 11 weeks old, and follow a strict three-step puppy socialisation training approach:
- Step 1: While puppies should mix and interact with other dogs, they must not be over-exercised as their bodies are still developing. We therefore provide big comfy beds and quiet rest areas for them to seek out when they’ve finished exploring. This is essential at home too. Puppies love to play but they instinctively know when they’ve had enough and need to chill-out.
- Step 2: Puppies need more food, and usually several smaller meals a day, to ensure they have all the nutrition required to develop and grow into a healthy adult dog. We therefore feed them regularly and separately in special doggy crates where they can eat at their own pace. The discipline of this process also serves as a valuable training tool, as the best-behaved puppy gets fed first and the others soon learn that good behaviour is rewarded.
- Step 3: Human interaction is also important so the puppies can recognise their human handlers as leader of the pack. This is not just a good social skill but a safe one too – all dogs are so much easier to train and develop when they are puppies, rather than when they are fully grown. Our 25-strong team is very experienced in dog and puppy handling, and this ensures the puppies love and respect them and in turn their owners.
Our advice, therefore, to current and potential puppy owners is by all means own a puppy, but please think hard about its training and make sure socilaisation is top of your to-do list.
Bruce Casalis is director and founder of Bruce’s Doggy Day Care, a multi-award-winning business providing doggy daycare for London and Surrey dogs.