Guide Dogs, a charity in the UK which trains 1,300 dogs for the visually impaired every year, has developed the first scientifically proven standardized training program of its kind that can be used to increase the chances a puppy will grow up to become a well-behaved dog, IFLScience.com reported. The key? Exposing pups to new people and situations within the first 6 weeks of life.
The program was evaluated using 6 litters raised under standardized conditions and the impact of the program was measured using a practical puppy behavioral assessment at six weeks old and an eight-month dog handler behavioral questionnaire. The results were published in Applied Animal Behavior Science.
The findings claim during the puppy's first 2 weeks of life they should be gently stroked with a toothbrush and wrapped in different materials, such as nylon and fleece. They should then be exposed to different surfaces while they're learning how to walk. "While this is all going on, they should also be sat in front of TVs, have keys jangled around them, and encouraged to listen to mobile phones," IFLScience.com stated. The idea is that these "mildly stressful experiences for puppies" will ensure that "as adults they are better able to deal with new situations, emotional disturbance, and even physical stress."
By week 5, puppies should be exposed to mustaches and beards, as well as hats and sunglasses. "The trainers will also open and close umbrellas in front of them, and let the puppies check out their own reflections."
"Early life experiences have a much greater impact on future behaviors than experiences at any other stages of the life cycle," the authors of the study wrote. Read the full study here.