We’re one week in after the second and final vaccination – Rocket (our 14 week old puppy Wocker) is now officially allowed to go out into the big world! It can be scary, for both our puppy and for us. Everything is new – smells, sights, textures, tastes, movements – it can be overwhelming, so we take it slow and steady – there is absolutely no rush to expose puppies to everything and everywhere.
Find the right opportunities
On our way home from Devon, we stopped at a beautiful cafe. It had the most gorgeous outdoor area and it was not too busy, so we took this perfect opportunity for Rocket to do some exploring and do a few training games.
Getting any level of focus in these distracting environments is super tricky, and Rocket found it very difficult to focus on anything for more than a few second and he inevitably pulled like crazy! But that’s ok (for now), as he’s still very young. We just let him take in the new environment, enjoy the smells and the views, ensuring it’s a good experience for him.
Everything is Awesome!
Rocket is now at that puppy age where he is really aware, noticing everything and everything is just super exciting – from the car driving past, the branches on the floor, the kids with the scooters and the little dog walking on the other side of the road.
Guard their optimism
We want to avoid bad experiences so we are picky with the environments we expose Rocket to. Life throws things our way that we have no control over and some of them may worry or frighten our dogs.
As much as we can, we want to control the controllable, we guard Rocket’s optimism, grow his confidence and resilience in a safe environments so he is better prepared to handle what life brings.
Setup your puppy for success
Let’s be real, a 14 week old busy spaniel isn’t going to loose lead walk, especially not in a new and exciting environment 😀 Instead, we set him up for success by growing confidence with games he’s learnt (and is very good at) at home.
Any level of attention from Rocket will be tricky so we don’t expect too much. With some high value treats, we did a couple of quick short easy games such as Middle and 2 Feet On. After a few quick wins, it was a good and happy experience with Rocket.
While pavement walking, we used this as a good opportunity for Rocket to learn that he doesn’t get to meet everyone. It would be a bad idea to let Rocket greet every single person, dog, child he sees as we don’t want him to get over excited, nor overwhelmed by them.
Be choosy with who you allow your dog to meet. Often we hear about a dog who had one bad experience from one dog, and now doesn’t like dogs at all. Sometimes, all it can take is one bad experience to set you back, so where possible try to be selective.
We really want Rocket to be comfortable and calm around these distractions so every now and again if he turns towards me I give him a treat and keep moving.
Settling in the Pub
We’ve been training Boundary Game (aka settle to mat) with Rocket since day 1. This will come in handy when we want to take him to places such as the pub, cafe, train, vets waiting room, he can learn to chill out with us rather than trying to say hello to everyone there.
We also want him to demo in classes so being able to focus on me and the games with people and dogs near by is important.
Starting Puppy Classes
At 14 to 16 weeks, it is the perfect time to start puppy class. In our Fun Life Skills Group Classes, we ensure all puppies and dogs have plenty of space between them. This teaches our dogs to have focus on us while being around other dogs, people and in a new environment – a very important life skill to have.