Tuesday, January 03, 2012

101 Things to Do With A Puppy or Pooch

I tell adopters the story of Thea as I want them to socialize their new additions as well. or better than we did. Coming up with new things is tough for some people (it was really hard for me at first)  so, in case you are bringing home a puppy soon here is a list of 101 things to do with a puppy to help the socialization/confidence building process along.  A few of these things are more than one thing of course - different people/places make them different.. but this should get you going.

Some caveats to keep in mind first though - make sure you can control the situation - overfacing your dog is worse than not exposing them. For example I would not introduce a dog who had never met a baby to them at a party with 20 children under the age of 2. Positively reinforce the attitude you want and let the dog offer that behaviour rather then forcing the interaction. Better to have one quick sniff of the new thing offered than shoving pooch into a stressful situation. You can always revisit anything you try. In fact it takes very little to make it a new experience all over again - change one element and it's new!
  1. meet new men 
  2. meet new women
  3. meet new children
  4. meet babies
  5. meet new people who are "strange"to the puppy (varied ethnicity, accents, older than dog is used to, limps, whatever!)
  6. meet people wearing different cloths (pastors, big floppy hats, loose clothes, uniforms etc)
  7. meet people using canes, carrying umbrellas, in wheelchairs etc (sometimes with a particularly shy puppy (or for some objects!) meeting the object away from a new person is a gentler approach - and fine! at a recent trial I was at some dogs got spooked by an electric scooter -my guys looked at me-  got a treat and spent the rest of the trial trying to get me closer to the scooter for more treats)
  8. vary the location of all of the above - at home, away from home inside and outside are all different to a dog!
  9. Play Pass the Puppy (at least three of you spread out a little - call the pooch to you - huge fuss a treat, and then somebody else calls- lots of fun and gets dog used to the notion that all people are worth paying attention to)
  10. sign up for, and attend, at least one session of doggy school - it's fun! 
  11. introduce your puppy to inert: bikes,
  12. skateboards,
  13. rollerblades,
  14. strollers,
  15. then introduce to them to: bikes in action,
  16. skateboards in action,
  17. rollerblades in action,
  18. strollers moving.
  19. Take a: car ride,
  20. bus ride, subway ride,
  21. Ride in a basket or box - Sally loved being in a cardboard box and dragged around.  
  22. Ride in a cart, wagon or other moving object 
  23. Change where the puppy eats: crate,
  24. kitchen, 
  25. bathroom, 
  26. bedroom,
  27. car, 
  28. outside, etc.  I actually think this is a valuable skill for all dogs to have - see a meal - eat it. 
  29. Eat out of different things in different ways: normal bowl,
  30. a plate,
  31. hand feed a meal, 
  32. play swap this - once the dog is comfortable with you being around the food bowl  drop something lovely into the bowl and take a piece of kibble out, and reverse it - take kibble out and offer something fabulous *** this may not be appropriate for all dogs and all people - know your dog!
  33. feed on a cookie sheet, in a  cup whatever you think of.
  34. Go into a store - small independent merchants are often the best bet for this, banks are usually great too.  Before final vaccines I'd stay away from pet stores unless puppy is small enough to be in a cart - and you are diligent about not letting dogs you don't know have contact (I've seen enough parvo to last us all a life time) 
  35. Sit outside a library, school or other similar place - amazing how many new things that accomplishes!
  36. Walk on different surfaces and places: grass, 
  37. concrete,
  38. snow,
  39. mulch, 
  40. pine needles, 
  41. wood floor, 
  42. carpet,
  43. linoleum, 
  44. bubble wrap, 
  45. a tarp,
  46. a raincoat, 
  47. a piece of cardboard, 
  48. in a puddle
  49. along a beach, beside running water
  50. along a busy road
  51. along a country road
  52. up a steep hill
  53. down a steep hill
  54. a sewer grate, etc - without pushing puppy let them explore as many different surfaces as possible - reward if they approach and step on it - ignore and make no big deal if they are nervous - I'll model once then move on .. retry a few days later - pushing too hard can create a very real fear .
  55. Go through things - hang a light material down and let puppy push it aside to get to you .. build up the material til puppy knows to push when invited 
  56. have puppy cross logs, curbs, walk along rock paths 
  57. Walk on moving surfaces - an easy way to do this is put a tennis ball under something solid 
  58. Carry the dog. Small dogs need to be on the ground lots but big dogs need to learn to be carried too. 
  59. Meet new dogs, of all ages and sizes and dispositions - being careful not to expose your puppy to dogs with unknown vaccine history or that are going to be nasty - telling a puppy off is one thing - attacking it is quite another 
  60. Meet cats or new cats - let the cat be up higher than the dog and keep the pooch on leash 
  61. Meet new other small animals - parrots, rabbits, guinea pigs whatever you can find to introduce go for it, respecting the other animal of course
  62. Meet large animals - Sally met a camel when she was about 8 months old - she thought that was the best day ever in her life to that point! 
  63. Visit the vet just for a cookie and weigh in 
  64. Trim (or mock trim) nails, hold feet, smell feet, rub feet - get other people to do this too!
  65. Groom or mock groom puppy - with a wide variety of tools - brush, comb, slicker brush wrong way round if dog is very short coated
  66. Towel your dog as if it was soaked
  67. Wipe feet with a towel 
  68. Handle every bit of your puppy and make it a game ... hold the muzzle for a second and let go; pick up a foot, release and have a party; look inside ears and exclaim "oh what beautiful ears you have" 
  69. Bath time - make it easy and short at first - every time you add an element it's something new ... soap, standing water, rinsing, a drier .. all change the picture (I'd be shocked if my dogs get even one bath a year once they get this is not a death sentence)
  70. expose your pooch to noise ... not too loud at first but different sound exposures really pays off : music
  71. workmen with things like jackhammers
  72. hammering
  73. chainsaws
  74. dogs barking
  75. metal clanging
  76. knocking
  77. crumpling paper
  78. door bells
  79. bells of any kind
  80. clapping
  81. popping sounds (I love bubblewrap)
  82. offer new toys - everybody loves this one - people and puppies and pooches all!
  83. fuzzy toys that make sounds
  84. toys that move weirdly - one of the most fun Thea had when a little puppy was watch a train set run
  85. tug toys you can interact with 
  86. balls in all sizes you can roll and play with 
  87. empty water bottles are a number one toy here 
  88. empty boxes are great too- what happens if puppy is in a box? can they stand on a box? put a foot in a box? there is a great shaping game - 101 things to do with a box - that inspired the title of this blog post
  89. Kongs - wubba kongs, kongs on ropes, plain old kongs fuzzy kongs 
  90. Frisbees - soft is best if you are going to try throwing them to be caught- but my guys like chasing down plastic ones rolling on their edge too!
  91. Watch and interact with things that beep, shriek and otherwise are unpredictable
  92. Play dress up: coats or teeshirts on,
  93. boots or socks
  94. hats or head gear, 
  95. funny collars, again whatever you can think of. 
  96. expose puppy to new smells - what can you find that pooch won't know the smell of? open bottles and let them sniff - their noses are much much more sensitive than ours so be gentle with this one 
  97. work tricks and training in a new spot - again a bathroom and a kitchen are very different places - let alone outside or somewhere the dog hasn't been before - three great ones to work on follow this suggestion.
  98. Doggy Zen (also known as It's Yer Choice by some) just a game of self control - fun to try with new things and in new places. Quiz loved this game. 
  99. hand touches - I don't ever use a verbal cue I need to do my own video on this apparently. 
  100. go to place/mat/bed (great video - tho I no longer "charge a clicker"
  101. Find your own new things that you can enjoy with your dogs - agility became a passion of mine simply through the desire to have fun with happy, engaged dogs! We also enjoy curling up on the couch together- don't doubt that power either!

It's quite funny as I type this Sam is watching out the window for Big T's return (they've been together for 13 days and nights straight) Sam is turning the radio volume up and down as he rests his sad head waiting. Not phasing him at all - so it seems we did an ok job on that phase of exposure for him!


renee said...

Thanks Andrea! This is fabulous!!

Sara said...

WHat a great list! I've seen similar lists in books and such, and heard you should do 100 new things in the puppy's first 100 days.

I tried real hard with Chewy, but stopped counting at one point.