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Error-Free Puppy Raising® Tips

by Rolan Tripp, DVM and Susan Tripp, MS

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Getting Started -  "Pass the Puppy" Socialization and Gentling

A common mistake people make with cute, little puppies is not getting them comfortable being held and handled by a variety of people so that later in life, they will be less stressed and less likely to respond aggressively to handling.

"Pass the Puppy" is a socialization and gentling exercise, done under controlled circumstances, to condition the puppy to accept friendly people. The goal is to build trust in people, a little frustration tolerance, and compliance with being  handled.

Have a puppy party, inviting people to your home to help you with this exercise. Ask people to sit in a circle. Provide puppy treats. (Each treat needs to be the size of a cheerio. Have your puppy skip the meal before the party.)

When the puppy is passed, each person let's out a big sigh to relax their bodies and the puppy, and gives the pup a hug, saying something like, "You are just the cutest puppy I've ever seen," holding the pup for a few seconds close to their body and then offering the pup a tasty treat. The goal is to wait until the pup relaxes, then release and give the treat.

The next time the puppy is passed, each person holds the pup under the front arms like holding a baby with the pup's eyes below theirs. When pups are suspended off the ground and nothing bad happens, the pup learn that humans are bigger and stronger and yet very gentle and trustworthy. Puppies learn that people are strong enough to take charge and remove their freedom to escape but do not abuse that power. Instead, the pup learns to associate people with friendly touch and treats. By being passed from one person to the other, the pup generalizes that all people are powerful and friendly. You want the puppy to learn, These people are friendly, powerful cookie givers!"



Positive Dog Parenting® by Rolan Tripp, DVM and Susan Tripp, MS     

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