The concept of providing your new pup with 100 new experiences in 100 days is a favorite, and is derived from some of the best trainers and behaviorists in the world. It implies that not only do you bring your puppy to training classes early, but other imprint experiences are important.
The first six to eight weeks of experiences are provided by your pup’s breeder or the shelter environment. But once the pup goes home with you, a whole new series of experiences need to be addressed.
Start by writing the numbers 1 through 100 on a notebook or calendar. For each day, write down a new experience your pup will have. The experience can be very basic, as long as it’s new and affects either sensory, brain or learning experiences. This teaches a pup to deal with new things and fears.
Here are some suggestions:
Home: TV conversations, microwave beeping, movement and sound of vacuum cleaner, babies crying. Get the pup used to seeing people wearing caps and sunglasses and carrying objects such as mops or brooms.
Stairs are a challenge so start with just one or two. Crates, baby gates and being confined, so that they learn they cannot always be with you. Make sure there is exposure to types of toys for appropriate play; squeaky, tug, rubber balls, soft and hard bones, safe edible bones.
Start touching them very early on by handling the paws and face and ears. Brush them regularly to get used to it. The more you do this the better your dog will adjust to touch by others.
Outside: Lawn equipment, cars, bikes, trucks, school bus, horn blowing, drains on the street, trash cans. Introduce them to those wearing uniforms; all ages of children – including stationary, crawling and walking; and people of all races, sizes and gender.
The planet: Different textures; grass, sand, waves and water at the beach; garden mulch, the driveway and road, and walking on wet textures, as well as walking in the rain. Teach your pup to walk on a leash in a variety of equipment such as harnesses or collars.
Have your pup play with other puppies, both large and small, on a one-on-one basis or in a class, but not in a dog park until they are older and have age-appropriate vaccines. Safety and supervision is critical on this, as health and play styles differ. Bring your dog to a pet store and home improvement store so they can smell all the temptations and be around large noisy things.
Car rides: Very early, veterinarians and groomers are critical. Clippers, brushing, blow drying, bathing, and touching of face and paws by strangers is a serious need when they are young, as it may take time to work through their fears.
Go to outdoor restaurants or other businesses that allow pets. Have them meet people in wheelchairs, with walkers, canes and more. Have as many people pet them as possible, as long as your pup is not jumping!
Every day should be an adventure for you and your dog as you explore your world together. Puppies are less likely to develop fear or aggressive behavior to things they have seen, experienced and understand.
Abby Bird is owner of Alphadog Training Academy. AlphadogTrainingAcademy@gmail.com