Socialization Week 3 (5-6 weeks of age)

Wow! Time is flying by. As the puppies grow each week they become more and more active and are turning into little adventurers (although they still love being with mom).

Even within a weeks time, we see growth and change. At the beginning of the week they are starting to spend more time away from mom and by the end of the week, she is away for most of the day. At the start, they are just nosing around in her food. So when I see that interest, I start to add hot water to soften mom’s food and have it available for them at all times. By the end of the week, they are happily eating that softened food from mom’s dish.

We continue to use the clicker and start playing some games with them. Well, some might not consider it a “game” per se, but we call them puppy games. As you remember from past weeks we first start out when the puppy is three to four weeks old by getting them to take food from our hand. When they’re that age, it takes a while to grasp that concept. Once we see that they will take treats from our hand and are eating them, we’ll introduce the clicker. We do a couple one to two-minute sessions of click-treat, click-treat, etc. Maybe a couple days in a row, or if the first session doesn’t go well, we might wait a few days to try again when the puppy is more “ready”. Then once their brain knows what that click means (treat is coming!), we’ll start playing games and using the clicker to mark behaviors (even tiny ones towards something we’re working on).

This week it was the box game. Basically, the puppy is in a room with us (by themselves because we don’t want distractions), we set a small box (in this case I used a lid from a plastic container) down on the floor and click and treat every time the puppy interacts with the box. What we’re looking for is the puppy to think about how to get that treat. At first, we’re going to click for everything; they looked towards the box, they accidentally touched it, they backed into it, etc. But pretty soon, the wheels start turning and puppy figures out that for some reason when I interact with that “thing” I get food! And then they might start offering behaviors which we will reward. This is just the very start of a positive reinforcement-type training. (Just so you know, this is new to me too and I’m learning along with the puppies. I was brought up with more “traditional” training methods).

We also continued with some challenges for the pups, like climbing over a big pool noodle as they came out of the puppy pen, and also putting their food dish a few feet away and around the Iris pen for them to find.

They had their first trip outside this week with mom. The second trip was without mom. And while they were outside, they got to meet one of the big dogs, the older Poodle puppies and Sundae came to visit.


We’re continuing with different sounds too from the sound app (more on that later) and household sounds they would hear. (Okay, so the smoke alarm was not a planned part, but they got to hear it. I seriously need an exhaust fan in my kitchen for when I turn burners up to high! 😜)

And does anyone remember this annoying toy from your childhood? I’ll hide it when I have grandkids!

The pups are busy having playtimes in the living room and learning how to rest quietly in their playpen when it’s not their turn to be out. Okay, so that part does get a bit noisy sometimes, but they eventually settle down. (Get ready adopters! You will be going through the same thing soon. Don’t give in to those adorable little whimpers and loud wailings. If you don’t react, the puppy is not getting rewarded and will settle down, eventually. Yes, some do take longer than others.) During playtime, we try to continue to introduce new items and toys for them to investigate, interact and play with.

Speaking of new things (and new noises, or old noises for that matter), puppies do go through fear periods! Please be aware of this when you are watching videos of our puppies and after you get your puppies home. If you see a puppy (video) and one puppy is sitting in the corner acting fearful, that does not mean that is going to be a shy, fearful puppy. It could just be a fear period (which can last for various amounts of time). You might see that puppy three days later bouncing around and not realize it’s the same puppy. When we see (here) a puppy acting fearful, we’ll just assume the whole litter is in a fear period and avoid introducing big, new, loud scary things. We’ll back off a bit, don’t put pressure on to meet this new thing, and take baby steps to encourage the puppy with whatever it might be scared of. Or waiting a few days till they are past that stage helps too.

Let’s give an example. Maybe one day I pull out the vacuum and puppy acts like he/she has never heard or see that monster before. Well, instead of vacuuming right up to the puppy’s playpen, I might turn it on in the other room so the sound is much more muffled. Or maybe I’ll set the vacuum in the room with the puppies, but not turn it on, let the puppy approach it and reward it with treats. You get the picture. We don’t want to force the puppy to accept something. And we never want to purposefully scare a puppy, and the puppy should always have a choice. (Thanks to Jane Killion and Puppy Culture for that advice!) You guys, I’m not expert. I’m still learning too how to give my pups the best possible start in life.

Oh, and to wrap up the week, we had more visitors and new people for the puppies to meet!