“Puppy’s Rule of Twelve”

I have often wondered how my guide dog, Opal, got accustomed to some of the things she faces in our travels. She doesn’t mind a bus whizzing round a corner near her head.  Working her around a construction zone is no problem. Hospitals, grocery stores, malls are taken in stride.  She LOVES escalators.  My girl is a busybody…fascinated by trucks, people, animals, airplanes overhead etc. She spends as much time looking out the window, as our cat does!  Guide dogs start out as puppies too. They are raised by generous and caring families who are willing to take in a little bundle for a set period of time. Then they part with them, hopefully sending  them on their way for training as guide dogs.  Some dogs make it, some don’t.    Guide dogs schools (and there are many in Canada and the United States) usually have a ‘puppy raising’ or ‘puppy walking’ program.    I found this on the Guiding Eyes for the Blind  web site, on the puppy raising program information page.     Margaret Hughes is credited.  She created a wonderful set of guidelines about what puppies should experience before 20 weeks of age, in her book, Positive Puppy Training.   She says that puppies are most willing to try new things before they are 20 weeks old.  To socialize puppies, she suggests exposing them to a variety of experiences.  Be sure the experiences are safe and positive, she adds.  Accompany with praise.  Here are the Puppy’s Rule of Twelve:   By the time your puppy is 20 weeks old, it should have:

  •  Experienced 12 different surfaces: wood, woodchips, dirt, mud, puddles, deep pea gravel, grates, uneven surfaces, a table (ie. Vet.) etc.
  • Introduced to 12 different objects: toys, big and small balls, hard toys, funny sounding toys, metal items, statues, balloons, etc.
  • Experienced 12 different locations: front yard (daily), other peoples homes, school yard, shopping plazas, lakes, pond, river, boat, basement, elevator, car, moving car, garage, laundry room, kennel, etc.
  • Met and played with 12 new people (outside of the family): include children, adults, elderly adults, people in wheelchairs, walkers, people with canes, crutches, hats,sunglasses, etc.
  • Exposed to 12 different noises (ALWAYS keep fun and watch puppy’s comfort level-don’t want it to be scared): garage door opening, doorbell, children playing, babies screaming, big trucks, Harley motorcycles, skateboards, washing machine, power boat, clapping, loud singing, pan dropping, horses neighing, vacuums, lawnmowers, birthday party, etc.
  • Exposed to 12 fast moving objects (don’t allow to chase): skateboards, roller skates, bicycles, motorcycles, cars, people running, cats running, scooters, vacuums not on, children running, children playing soccer, squirrels, cats, horses running, cows running, shopping carts rolling, etc.
  • Experienced 12 different challenges: climb on, in, off and around a box, go through a cardboard tunnel, climb up and down steps, climb over obstacles, play hide and seek, go in and out of a doorway with a step up or down, exposed to an electric sliding door, jump over a broom, climb over a log, bathtub (and bath), etc.
  • Handled by owner (& family) 12 times a week: hold under arm (like a football), hold to chest, hold on floor near owner, hold in-between owner’s legs, hold head, look in ears, mouth, in-between toes, hold and take temperature, hold like a baby, trim toe nails, hold in lap
  • Formal GEB Body Massage done in 12 different locations
  • Eaten from twelve different shaped containers: wobbly bowl, metal, paper, plastic, Kong, paper bag, from your hand, etc.
  • Eaten in 12 different locations: back yard, front yard, crate, kitchen basement, laundry room, bathroom, friend’s house, car, school yard, bathtub, up high (on a cardboard solid box no more than 1 foot off the ground) etc.
  • Played with 12 different puppies (or safe adult dogs) under supervision.
  • Left alone safely (in crate) away from family and other animals (5-45 minutes) 12 times a week.
  • Left alone safely (in crate) near family members (5-45 minutes) 12 times a week.
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