Dog shows displacement such as starts to sniff, plays, running around ‘fool around’
Any body language that is unusual for your puppy
Runs out the room / avoidance
Head dropped / lowered
Mouth clenches closed
Ears pinned back
Flips onto back
Dog leans into you, goes ‘heavy’
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Start the sounds quietly, for short durations, only increasing in duration and volume when your puppy is not showing any awareness of the sound. If your puppy appears tense at any point, stop the exercise. Later, play the sound so that is barely audible, then offer your puppy their meal. Stop the sound just before they finish eating. Continue with this process until your puppy shows relaxed body language when they hear the noise.
You can also help socialise your puppy by changing the pitch and volume of your voice or by recording your voice, or other voices, on your phone and playing it back. Have a few pieces of kibble in your pocket or treat bag, change your voice and then offer a piece of kibble (or a toy if the puppy likes to play). Your puppy will learn that your out of character antics mean kibble (or play) is on its way and it’s therefore a good thing! The aim here is for your puppy to hear you being out of character, and then show relaxed body language. As with the sounds example, start low key and build up. If at any point your puppy shows tense body language, go back a step.
To replicate medical equipment sounds, try cutting spaghetti with nail clippers, opening tablet bottles, letting your puppy hear a thermometer beep, and crinkle paper or plastic to replicate opening needle packs. Turn on electric toothbrushes, hairdryers and electric razors so your puppy can hear them, but please don’t touch your puppy with any of them. With each noise, offer a piece of kibble (or play if your puppy prefers this) after the sound. Again, start low and far away, gradually working up to being close to the puppy.
Continue to let your puppy to hear every day sounds in the home such as the radio, TV, hoover, washing machine, putting the ironing board up etc. If your puppy does not show any reaction to these, you don’t need to complicate things by adding treats or toys. If they react, use their body language to understand whether they are worried. Use the tips in this section to help them overcome this, and if you are unsure, please speak to your Puppy Training Supervisor.
You can dress up using wigs, costumes, face paints, hats, high vis jackets, helmets, goggles or fishing rods. Remember that your puppy should be calm and relaxed, so avoid doing this at times of excitement, tiredness, or anxiety. It’s important to pair this with positive things, allow the puppy to have plenty of time to investigate, and to approach and move away as they choose.
You can introduce unusual equipment such as cones, clothes dryers, suitcases, walking sticks, umbrellas or newspapers, etc. Place the item on the floor and allow the puppy to investigate at their own pace. Avoid luring your puppy up to the object with food (luring is where we hold a piece of kibble or toy near the dog’s nose and they follow it). Instead, place the item out, and allow your puppy to investigate in their own time, while observing. If your puppy chooses to look at or step towards the item, you can then verbally praise and give them a piece of kibble or toy and play with them.
Here are some YouTube clips you could use, as examples:
If there are stairs on your daily walk and your Puppy Training Supervisor has said your puppy is old enough to negotiate stairs or steps, then practising this is a valuable skill. Remember to let your puppy take the steps at their own pace, and try to avoid using a ‘lure’ to encourage them to walk up or down the stairs. If they are showing some reluctance to use the stairs, then you can build up a positive association and in turn their confidence by offering a piece of kibble for any movement towards, or investigation of the stairs.
Use whatever items you can around the home or garden to give your puppy a variety of objects to walk over and around. Remember to let your puppy choose to interact with each item, there is no need to lure. Instead ‘mark’ approaches by saying, ‘good girl/boy’, and follow your praise with a piece of kibble or offer a toy. Gradually hold off praise so that your puppy offers more, and then reward them again with a piece of kibble or toy. If your puppy shows any avoidance of the object or fearful behaviour, go back a step and reward them just for being near or investigating the item.
You can use items around the home or garden to create markers or cones for your puppy to weave between. Remember to let your puppy choose to interact with the item, and don’t use a lure for this exercise. Gradually hold off praise so your puppy offers more and reward them with a piece of kibble or offer them a toy. If your puppy shows any avoidance of the object or fearful behaviour, then go back a step and reward them with kibble just for being near or investigating the item. The aim isn’t for your puppy to accomplish complete weaves – it is to let your puppy practice the physical negotiations of uneven surfaces, steps and turns etc.
With older and more confident puppies you could create a small obstacle course around the house or garden for fun and exercise.
Place your puppy in the car (in a crate, the boot or on the back seat) and then place their food bowl, chew or Kong in with them. Allow them to finish their food before removing them from the car.
Over the next few days, repeat this exercise and practice shutting and opening the boot or door. This noise, or the feeling that something is coming towards them, can worry some dogs, so look out for any indications of concern.
Once your puppy can jump in the car, provide them with their food. Let them to finish before they leave the car.
Over the next few days practice shutting and opening the boot or door.This noise, or the feeling that something is coming towards them, can worry some dogs, so look out for any indications of concern.
Let your puppy get lots of practice jumping into different parts of the car. If your car is in an enclosed space, you could allow your puppy to jump in one side and out of the other.