Positive association training, or PAT for short, is by far one of the most important things to understand as an owner.....whatever the age, or history of your pet.
The aim of PAT is managing new experiences, meeting, visits to new places etc.... so they create no fear whatsoever. Just the opposite in fact, they are seen as fun & rewarding.
Take your average puppy for instance, raised (we would hope) with his mother & littermates, in a safe warm environment. He wants for nothing & becomes used to his familiar surroundings.
A good breeder will get each pup used to being handled & spend time with each individual, so they get used to being apart from their littermates.
Pups usually go off to their new homes at 8-9 weeks old, unfortunately this period is also when they start to go through a fear period. Instead of being bold with their encounters, they can develop a fear of people , things & places. This is perfectly normal development & with good management & a little thought & preparation , it shouldn't cause any problems at all.
Put yourself in a pups shoes (yes, I do realise they don't wear shoes as a rule... !!!)... there you are, tucked up with Mum & your Brothers & Sisters & somebody reaches over & picks you up.
That's ok , you're used to being picked up, fed treats & cuddled.
But wait a minute, who are these people & where are they taking me ?
The pup arrives at your home, full of lovely things you've bought for him, new toys, new bed,new bowls, new collar & so the list goes on.
But, to your new pup,he's with strangers, in a new place, full of strange things, NOTHING is familiar & there's no Mum & siblings to offer comfort.
At bedtime the lights go out & he does the only thing he knows how, he cries.
This too is normal.......but what can we do to make it easier ?
The 1st thing is try & visit the pup as often as you can before bringing him home. Then you will be familiar to him.
Leave a few blankets, so they can pick up familiar scent, maybe a teddy too.
Prepare your home, have pups bed or crate set in a quiet area of the home. Think about where it's sited in terms of easy access to the garden (for house training)
When you bring your pup home place the items with familiar scent in pups bed/crate.
I always feed pups in their crate, this makes it a positive/rewarding place to be thus forming a positive association.
A stuffed puppy kong at bedtime is also comforting, as is a nightlight, radio at low volume, cuddly toy with familiar scent(Takes the place of littermates) , some people also use a heat source & ticking clock (which replicates a heartbeat) Whatever you use, you are trying to create a positive 1st night in his new home.
Don't forget, a puppy with a full tum will sleep better BUT be prepared for toilet trips throughout the night. Choose a spot in your garden, carry pup there & wait.......... & wait............... & wait !!!
As soon as puppy performs, lavish on the praise.
You may feel a bit silly at 3am, but it will be worth it & again is forming a positive association.
You'll soon see a pattern forming between meal times, sleeping & play times & the need to toilet, the trick is to be one step ahead & ensure pup is in his spot in time.
To be continued............