Friday, August 7, 2009
Puppy Imprint Period
While some will call the next few weeks a "Fear Imprint" period, I hate that description. What happens is that the puppies are ready to absorb all kinds of information, good AND bad. These experiences will last the life time of the puppy.
That is the reason why socialization is oh so very important. Anything you might expect your puppy to experience in the future, you should expose them to now, and make it a very positive experience. A puppy left to stress during a thunderstorm during this period, for example, could result in an imprinted fear of storms and thunder. Why not go and play a fun game in the rain instead? Use food and toys to form a GOOD association with thunderstorms!
A puppy might also associate cloth with danger after pulling a table cloth along with some noisy dishes down onto him self. Car rides, boat rides, children, toddlers, noise, activity, all should be managed in a happy and safe environment. Puppies are like children. They are fragile and don’t realize their fragility nor do they understand the danger present in many interesting common items. It is up to you to form positive experiences and make the world seem safe and fun.
I would very much expect my puppy to question "Big Scary" things. From their perspective this could be new dogs, people with hats, screaming children, machinery and even my horses. Puppies without a strong survival instinct would be in big trouble. Don't panic if you puppy cries as the big dogs run by. Laugh and play with the puppy so he feel safe and secure. Walk by busy streets and use food and happy words to calm and relax the puppy. If you feel apprehensive because of his behavior, you will only be reinforcing the fact that loud noises are indeed soemthing to be worried about.
Encourage your puppy to be brave - very, very brave. Say it in a happy, upbeat tone. Cuddlying and hiding your puppy will reinforce shyness and that, too, will come back to haunt you over their lifetime.
YOUR attitude, upbeat, happy, friendly and excited will be transmitted to your puppy. Now, take that puppy out there in the big, wide world and play, play, play!