Dogs Trust and the Kennel Club have come together to launch a unique new initiative that aims to give every puppy the very best start in life – the Puppy Plan.
From the moment a litter of puppies is planned, both the breeder, and then later the new owners, want to do everything possible to make sure that each new life has the chance to grow up to be the very best dog he or she can be. With health testing and responsible breeding, we can do as much as possible to make sure puppies are healthy and ‘fit for function’ but for the vast majority of dogs, no matter what their start in life, their function will not be as a working dog in the way their ancestors were, but will be that of a much-loved family dog, and we should be doing everything we can to prepare all dogs for that life.
Being a family dog is one of the most difficult jobs we ask dogs to do. We expect our dog to fit into the family – and that might include children, other dogs, cats and much more. He will have to accept loud noises and the unpredictable sounds of his new home, he will have to learn to be left alone when we can’t take him out with us, but come everywhere with us when he can, and he needs to learn not to herd the children, chase the cat, knock over granny, steal the Sunday dinner, or threaten the postman (or anyone else).
The foundations for all this good behaviour are laid down in the first 16 weeks of a dog’s life. This is an almost magical time when we are able to develop the puppy’s brain, and shape the way he will turn out as an adult dog. This is the time when most problem behaviours can be prevented long before they even start, giving the dog a far more certain future – and the new owner far less potential problems.
The Puppy Plan is a step-by-step, simple but comprehensive, socialisation plan that starts with the breeder (or the early care-giver, if different) who works through the first eight weeks (and records it every step of the way using diary entries, photos and/or videos), and this then passed onto the new owner to continue.