Puppy Care (Part 8)
Development and Socialisation
Once pup has completed his/her vaccinations and is comfortable with wearing a collar and lead around the home and garden, it is safe to go out into the world! Before describing our experiences with socialization, this is an appropriate time to summarise the major stages of your dogs’ development – it will put the behaviour that you will see, and the socialization that you do, in to context.
Summary of Canine Development Stages.
8-12 weeks: Puppy-hood.
Pup is limited to your house and garden and, through playing, will learn it’s position in your family and form it’s impressions of those who interact with it. It is still growing rapidly and so will tire easily and must be allowed to sleep a lot of the time in a quiet, safe place.
During this time the bond is formed between the dog and family – teaching it to respond to it’s name, house training, and basic training like coming when called. Make the training playful, fun and rewarding (with plenty of fuss and tidbits) not stern and boring!
3 – 6 months: Juvenile Stage.
This is the time when pup goes out for walks, initially keeping close to the owner and looking to you for guidance and support, but as confidence builds, the dog will want to go further afield. During this time, you are looking to expose the pup to new sights and sounds in a way that is enjoyable and fun.
The adult teeth also develop in this period – see the section on Teething for information about helping pup through this time.
6 – 18 months: The Adolescent Stage
This is the period where the dog is a typical ‘teenager’ and will be testing what the limits are, and challenging its position in the hierarchy of the pack – i.e. your family.
Adolescence can be a trying time, but if the ground rules have been set during the early days, this period will be easier to get through.
During this period the dog or bitch becomes sexually mature, and the change in hormone levels are a big part of how behaviour changes in this phase of development.
Also, the adult back teeth push through and this creates an understandable desire to chew.
18 months onwards: Maturity.
With patients, fairness, firmness and understanding you will come through the adolescence period and be rewarded with a well balanced and developed dog or bitch.
Socialisation – In General.
Socialisation is an important part of raising your pup to be a happy, outgoing and well balanced rough collie. Your pup has been raised in a home environment and so is used to many domestic experiences, sights and sounds such as the TV, radio, washing machine and vacuum cleaner for example.
When it is time to encounter traffic, bicycles, lawn mowers and everything else, the basic approach is to do it gradually and in a non threatening way – this usually means at a distance, so the perceived threat is small.
To make every new experience a positive one, have plenty of tasty treats handy. Consider traffic on a busy road: Approach the road and whilst some distance away (in sight, but not an immediate threat) praise the dog and offer a treat. Now casually move a few paces closer – again it’s “good girl” and a treat. Soon, your pup will associate the traffic with something pleasant happening – a treat and lots of praise!
Occasionally, a new sound will be encountered by surprise, for example the sudden ‘hiss’ of air brakes on a bus or lorry. This may take your pup by surprise and make him terrified. When this sudden encounter happens, your first reaction will be to bend down and pet and reassure pup. Don’t – you will simply be reinforcing the fact that there was something to be worried about! It’s better to behave like it’s not a big deal – just say to pup “Come on, don’t be silly…” and carry on like nothing significant has happened. If pup can see from you that all is well, then so much the better.
Socialisation – Other Dogs.
There are many good puppy socialization classes, so ask around what’s available in your area – it’s a great way for your collie to experience how different breeds react.
However if you’re going to give up time to go to a puppy class in your area, we recommend you also consider the Kennel Club Good Citizen Scheme when your collie is a little older – say 6 months or more.
Getting Used to the Car.
Collies, like any other breed can get car sick, although this is something that they usually grow out of. As with other new experiences, the best approach is to create a pleasant association with a car journey. Try using the car just to go to the local park, even if it’s just a 5 minute ride. Pup will soon associate the car ride with ‘going somewhere nice’ and as time goes on, you can gradually lengthen the journey time!
General Outdoor Care.
During the summer months:
- Don’t leave your dog outside for any length of time without access to shaded shelter.
- Ensure there is a clean, fresh supply of drinking water: If you go out in the car, or for a walk take some water and a dish with you. There are even travel bottles with drinking ‘troughs’ built in you can take!
- The Handi-Drink: Water bottle with a built in drinking ‘trough.’
- Don’t go for walks during the hottest part of the day – go early morning or in the evening when it is cooler.
- Don’t leave your dog in the car.
During the winter months:
- Don’t leave your dog outside in freezing temperatures for any length of time without access to shelter and warmth. Ensure that the water in the dogs dish is not frozen.
- Don’t let your dog rest on frozen ground.
- Don’t take a dog for long walks outside during freezing weather.
- If walking or playing on snow be aware that ice balls can form between the pads of the feet and become very painful or cause lameness.
- Don’t leave your dog in a car. Being left in a very cold car can cause hypothermia.
- Always have a supply of plastic bags handy so you can clean up after your dog. As well as ‘poop scoop’ bags, nappy disposal bags make a handy and cost effective option for cleaning up after your dog.