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  1. Dogs and puppies get a lot of enjoyment out of getting into things 
    that they shouldn't. I was asked by a client recently -
    “why does my dog always run away with my socks”. The socks themselves
    provide only a little entertainment, to be chewed or thrown around,
    but certainly no more than their favourite toy.
    What does excite Fido however, is that it is not theirs'....
    and because of this (and here is where the massive reward comes) the
    attention a dog will get when he picks up a sock rather than their own
    toy is considerably more. “What have you got Fido!” which is generally
    followed by -
    Shouting – all very exciting or a reason to hide.
    A fun game of chase – what dog doesn't love chase!
    Laughing - “my people have noticed me and are making a fun sound”
    Handling – we rush over to grab our dog and you guessed it...handling is attention too.
    Where this attention seeking game can go wrong for a dog is that the source of all this 
    entertainment is taken away by us. Of course, it is – after all, our dog should not be playing
    with our socks! However, over time, in our dogs mind that simple, self-rewarding behaviour
    turns into how do I stop the consequence – always having the sock taken away.
    And, of course we don't just do this with things that dogs shouldn't be picking up. We expect 
    them to share all of their worldly goods with us without question – bones, toys, even their
    meals if we so desire. How would you feel if you were asked to accept somebody taking your
    prized mobile phone or your favourite chocolate bar from under your nose whenever they
    pleased with no explanation?! I imagine you would not be very happy at all and would
    certainly find some way of this not happening to you again. As our dogs cannot speak our
    language and gain this explanation of sharing from us, they will go through a very similar
    thought process. They process may go a little something like this:
    Fido finds that running away and that fun game of chase always ends in him being caught 
    and the attention-grabbing sock gets taken away. So, he tries a new tactic. What if I play hide
    and seek and squeeze myself into this little corner behind the furniture. Surely, they won't be
    able to get to me and my special sock here! Or maybe if I stay really still and keep my eyes
    on my crafty owners and then dart out of the way at the last minute socky will be saved.
    But of course, these new games only work for a short time too as we seek Fido out from
    his hiding spots and block him from returning there, or consistently outfox him in his games
    of stealth and chase. The battle of the sock has now reached new levels of excitement and
    importance in Fido's eyes. So, what next. This time he may try a little bark or a growl to warn
    his parents how important the sock has become to him. It may surprise dad at first, but little
    Fido is too cute and cuddly really and he still manages to take back his sock and then give
    him a little telling off for the silly growl (over a sock no less!). Hmm...so now Fido thinks that
    he best not do the barks and growls, maybe a snap of the air in mum or dads direction will
    be the right answer. No, in fact that gets exactly the same reaction – after all, Fido isn't
    scary, and dad knows he didn't mean anything by it as it was only a little snap.
    So, what is left for Fido to show his parents that this lovely sock really is something he wants 
    to keep now.......unfortunately the only logical thing for our dogs to do is to increase the
    aggression to something that can't be ignored – nipping or biting. After all, nothing else
    worked to win the accolade of the attention grabbing, oh so desirable sock! And the more
    that our dog learns that this behaviour works – the more it will be practised. Fido has learnt
    the behaviour we call Resource Guarding. As I said earlier, this behaviour can be learnt with
    anything we choose to take from them
    without their cooperation and acceptance that they see as a resource: something that 
    provides fun and entertainment, nourishment or attention for our dog.
    The key things to remember from this tale of one dog and his sock are:
    If your dog gets hold of something that they shouldn't, don't give it special value with your 
    attention. Ignoring is boring! And if you can't (because your dog has hold of something
    dangerous or expensive) then give all of your excitement and attention to something more
    appropriate (one of their toys for example) and praise them for choosing that instead.
    Teach your dog self-control and obedience commands, with the help of a fun training class, 
    so that they see the value in dropping items, leaving even the most tempting of things and
    generally teaching them the good manners of sharing.
    If you recognise any of Fido’s' behaviours in your own dog, seek advice from a qualified 
    trainer on how to put some simple techniques into your routine so that your dog can start to
    see that sharing even the most exciting of “socks” can be the best sort of prize for all.

    Kerry Walker - Behaviour Counsellor
  2. Socialisation is one of the most, if not the most important thing you can do as a puppy owner!

    In the early stages of life, the experiences your puppy goes through are going to stick with them for the rest of their lives. Because of this, it is important they build plenty of positive associations with the world and what it has in store for them.

    When we talk about socialisation, we mean to everything! Interactions with people, places, noises and other dogs are all crucial if we are to set them up for success.

    Take care when setting up these interactions, little and often is your best bet, we want each experience they must be as positive as possible. This means taking them to see family and friends, varying their walks and attending puppy play and training sessions.

    Is your pup looking a little hesitant in these new situations?

    Take things steady and use treats to give them a little confidence boost. The more they experience the better they will get, it is important they learn that it isn’t all that bad.

    Is your pup a little over the top in new situations?

    Make things simple and reward them for staying calm, polite greetings and appropriate play. The more practice they get, the more well-mannered they will become.

    Lack of appropriate socialisation can lead to a number of problems in later life. Anxiety, aggression or over excitement are common issues related to insufficient experiences during their puppyhood, meaning it is crucial for any new puppy to get out in the world to socialise.

    Why should we attend puppy play and puppy classes over meeting dogs on a walk?

    Meeting dogs on walks is fine but you just don’t know what you are going to get. We want our greetings to be in a nice controlled environment with dogs of a similar socialisation level or higher. Unfortunately, not all dogs you meet on walks are well socialised so may not want to greet your puppy or may indirectly teach bad habits.

    Can we over socialise a puppy?

    No, the more you can do the better! We always say you should aim for your puppy to meet 100 – 150 other dogs before they reach 6months of age. This way they will have experienced all different sizes, shapes, breeds and most importantly play styles.

    What is the best age to start socialisation?

    8 weeks old and up! The earlier you can start the better. If your puppy has only had their 1st vaccination you can still carry them to new places such as vets and pet shops to get them started. Certain puppy play groups will also allow you to bring puppies with only their first vaccination if the room they are in is properly treated.

    Older puppies can still benefit from socialisation but if you think they are behaving inappropriately or have had a negative experience when socialising previously it is always best to consult a canine behaviourist first for advice.

    George Rooke - Head Behaviour Counsellor