Whenever you bring home a pup, you are bringing home a baby animal who needs love, reassurance and time to adjust to her new life, and this is the same if your dog is to be a therapy dog of some kind or a family pet (or both).
For human children, we are told that 0-5 (birth to age 5 years) is crucial for setting your human up for life. (Hey, no pressure!!) Similarly, your dog’s first 6 months lays the template for all future experiences. For a pup to grow up into a well-rounded, confident, well-mannered citizen of the future, it is imperative that you get her out and about in the world to enjoy as many different experiences as possible and that each of these situations leaves a positive imprint.
This is not the time to expose her to frightening people or situations. Sometimes, you can’t control this and if that happens it’s crucial that you remain calm and confident to demonstrate the appropriate response.
You might like to take advantage of cafes that allow dogs, trips to Bunnings (you can put pup in the trolley), parks (but be careful of dog parks as they can be hotspots for dog aggression), the beach, suburban streets (we live on acreage and realised Sunshine needed exposure to more populated living spaces with barking dogs, tradesman, traffic, bicycles etc.), outdoor escalators, boats, farm animals and chickens, and lots of children. Our six-year-old gives Sunshine tolerance to noise, racing cars that fly down the hallway and bang into walls, squeals, balloons, yelling, movies and television, school bags etc. You can take her on holidays with you, in the car wherever possible, to visit the vet regularly for weigh-ins, worming and treats, to the hydro bath and pet store, to visit family and friends, and your child’s school may welcome class visits too.
And of course, your baby needs time just to be a baby, growing bones and ligaments, new teeth and nerve coverings. It’s a big job growing a little pup into a big dog! And it goes by so quickly.