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Socialization of puppies, how and why!

Newly born puppies (preferably reared in the living room) are blind and deaf, although they can't hear they squeak and whine when they are hungry.

Their primary needs are warmth and milk.

In this phase it is important to take the pups often in your hands, to let them smell your breath and to make them as acquaintaned as possible to human smell.

After about 12 days their eyes open, they don't see much yet, only the difference between light and dark (contours). In this phase the ears also open, they start to react to sounds and they begin to pee and defecate independently.

We keep touching, and fondling the pup, we also offer sound stimulation. Known living room sounds, like TV, radio, vacuum cleaner and so on, but also a CD with many sounds like fireworks, cars, animals, thunderstorms, trains, children's playground and so on and so on.

At the age of 3 weeks the pups have good eye sight, the teeth come, they enter into a new phase.
Carefully exploring each other, clumsy snapping, wanting to run and stumble over one's own feet, tail wagging.

Social ties are established within the litter.

Sit down frequently between the pups. That way the pups learn the feel, look and smell of humans.
This is essential for the rest of the pup's life.

It stays important to have the pups smell your breath by way of greeting. Pups do that amongst each other to determine of the smell is familiar.

The pups develop now very quickly, start to scratch themselves clumsily because they feel good, make grumbling noises after a full belly, and lift touchingly their feet against each other, play silently snapping in each other's mouth. But they can also sc ream out loudly when mummy doesn't give milk quickly enough, or when the solid feet, with which we have now started, doesn't come quickly enough.

At about the age of 3 weeks, dependent on the breeder, we start feeding meatballs by hand or on wetted kibble. A v very messy affair, but here also the contact between pup and human is very important.

The socialization phase is from week 4 until about week 12.

Pups don't forget their impressions during this phase for the rest of their life.

We continue with the previous, only more accelerated.
Sound level higher, a couple of hours outdoors, more stimulusís, many toys, like a big barrel, tunnels, tins dangling on a rope, b ell on a rope, empty plastic bottles with marbles, toys like cars and a see-saw, flapping flags, and so on.

Use your phantasy, it doesn't have to cost much money, but......................, in the very first place: people, very many people  and children visiting ; have them sit down between the pups, hug and fondle.

Forbid children to run between the pups, but promote them to hug and caress the puppies.

Bodily contact and play between pups and pups and pups and humans is 9 weeks. very important, that is one of the reasons why you must not take a puppy to early from the litter, the right age, if well socialized, is 8-9 weeks

Another issue is puppies reared in a barn without contacts with humans, these puppies can best be taken from the litter as early as possible, but it stay always more or less anti-social dogs.

One can assume that this doesn't occur with dogs bred in Leolibero and the LHCN (but one breeder may do more than another).

Space outside must be enough for developing muscles and ample playing.
A covered indoor/outdoor space is ideal, but not possible for everyone.
At least 50 m2 is needed for 10 or more pups, one needs this space also to keep everything clean and tidy (pups that can see the horizon have an advantage).
It is also important that the bitch can separate herself from the puppies.

Breeders with not enough space: fill up your pond, sacrifice your snug corner, it is for the better of your puppies.

Between the 3d and 5th week the pup knows barely fright, after that age the pup becomes more reserved, displays anxiety behavior, but recovers rather quickly.

Continue the stimuli and the bodily contacts (breath, mouth, and nose: a puppy tongue is not filthy).

After 7-8 weeks the natural reserved behavior prevails, it is at this time that you get your puppy.

If all went well your breeder had already introduced the pup to sound son the marketplace, the children's playground, driving in  a car, other dogs and other breeds.

You take your pup to the marketplace, the school's playground, into town, walking on a busy road, bus, train, puppy course, and so on, all this well dosed, so not everything in one day.
Better first walk by a fair than to walk directly into it right away. Nearly all puppies find that frightening, don't make the mistake to confirm the frightened behavior by means of stroking or talking. The pup may well look for comfort against your leg, but don't reward the frightened behavior.

Distract the pup from what causes his/hers fright by means of a treat or a toy.

Learn the pup right from the beginning to walk beside you,  a pulling 70 kgs heavy dog is not easy to handle.

The first day at home:

(Best arrive home with daylight, so he/she can explore the house).

You took care for an own place or crate, basket or rug, placed in a strategic place with not too much traffic. When  the pup is settling down to go to sleep lure or carry him to his place. Hugh him, give him a treat and say:"stay".

When the pup is asleep he should not be disturbed. Children tend to choose that moment to start hugging, because the pup is so nice and quiet then.
One of our puppy buyers didn't manage to explain this to her 4 year old daughter.
After she had wakened up her daughter in the middle of the night the girl asked angrily: "Mommy what are you doing now ?". Mommy said: "this is what you do to sleeping puppy".
That made her understands.

A crate and a basket are no places for punishment.

It is not longer done to let e puppy whine all night, go to comfort him, eventually sleep with him. Life is very scary without brothers and sisters.

After the night right outside, exuberant praising when he has peed/pooped.
Housebreaking goes very quickly when you take the pup outside after each nap, busy play, turning around. Keep on rewarding by means of praise.
Most puppies come housebroken for papers from the breeders.
You only have to place the newspaper in the direction of the outside door in order to have the pup warn you.

The whole education should be directed to give the dog a feeling of security, by means of leadership and consequence in education.

Make agreements with the whole family what is allowed and what is not. A puppy under the dinner table is no problem, but is it still nice when he is adult?
A lap sitting pup is nice, but what if visitors get a 70 kg dog on their lap? And so on, and so on.


Stay in contact with your breeder.
Often your breeder has years of experience, he/she may often have a simple solution for your urgent questions.

Take a ball and a treat when you take your pup outside, lure him to you, praise him extensively, and then let him go. Make a play out of this in such a way that the pup learns: there is something nice when I come to the master. Play hide and seek, for example behind a tree to teach the pup to monitor the master, and not the inverse.

Don't hike for longer than 5 minutes per month of age, with a maximum of 25 minutes until the age of 20 months.
Include a pause if you want to hike longer, oblige the dog to rest during the pause.

Hiking is important for muscle development, but everything within its limits !

You can have the dog officially hip scored after 20 months, if the result is good you can hike for hours.

He also must learn to deal with other dogs. Off leas in a field, learn to submit himself, playing and romping. Not too long, 10 minutes is often long enough.

 Look out for filthy "poop fields" in the beginning, to avoid diarrhea, and because of the vaccinations cover not yet being complete.

The first weeks are always difficult, one has to compromise.

U stay in charge and win all games, tear together a rag , when he lets go give the command "loose", praise him and give a treat. Teach the pup playingly what you demand from him.

Dogs see your hands as a muzzle, when you hold the pup with your fingers over the muzzle you imitate the behavior of the friendly dog higher in hierarchy, who keeps the muzzle in his mouth with the jaw immobile to indicate that he is the master.

The pup will imitate this by taking our hands carefully in his mouth. Don't punish pups who take your hand in  their mouth, divert them with a toy or a rag.

You must surely teach children to stand, lay or sit higher than the dog !
Never leaf children alone with the dog. Children, especially friends can do unexpected things with the dog, pricking in the eyes, tearing ears, sit on the dog, and so on. Prevent this, when you supervise you won't  have to blame yourself if something goes wrong. Don't let children walk towards the dogf, have them call him. If he comes he gets a hug and a treat. If he doesn't come he gets nothing

Teach children to give commands together with you, that way you place the child above the dog. Make it a play for your child; it makes things clear for the dog.

If you have several dogs the adult dogs will tolerate an awful lot from pups, they tear ears, drag on tails, and bite where they can.

After 5-6 months this stops, the adult dog doesn't accept it anymore and intervenes much more forcefully than you expected. The pup cries like being killed, you are inclined to protect the pup. Don't do, the dogs can sort this out very well themselves, this way they establish the hierarchy.

Right from t he start you must teach your dog to be alone. Go when he is asleep 5 minutes into the living room, they sleep lightly, he will surely be aware of it, when you come back hug him extensively.
Make the period a little longer each time, teach him that you always come back with a hug.

Praise with a high tone voice, correct in a low voice.

Commands must be short and must not sound the same. Use many treats and rewards, it must be enjoyable for master and dog.

Teach the dog that your presence near the food bowl is not threatening, but is pleasant instead. Sit down near the empty bowl, and put one kibble at a time into it, while you talk encouraging. Then put your had full of kibble in the bowl, let the dog eat from your hand.
That way the dog associates the presence of your hand near the bowl with something pleasant. Subsequently you caress the dog while he is eating, that way he learns it is not threatening. If you repeat this a few times per week the dog won't mind when you take away the bowl.

If your dog doesn't finish his bowl, take it away after 5 minutes. It is unhygienic to have food standing around (flies and so), and on top of that the dog can see the bowl as an object he has to defend. There is nothing worse than a dog who attacks because of his food bowl.

You must also teach to take away playingly toys and bones. Give them back sying "good dog".
Look out that children don't make a harass game out of this !

Teach him playingly to come, to show his bite, touch him regularly, comb him twice a week (preferably on a table, that way you have more dominance over the dog. Mak it a game, later being combed is a status.


Around 7-8 months (a Leonberger is later than most other breeds), he/she will try to mount a step higher in hierarchy.
The pup becomes disobedient, doesn't know commands anymore, tries to dominate and so on.

Puberty takes some 3 months, if you don't act consequently the pup will keep on trying until his 10th year !

He prefers a good master above him, who he can respect.

Keep on working with your dog for the rest of his life, he will surely reward you.

The more time and energy you invest into your pup, the more you get back.

The character of a friendly, pleasant, house friend is basically present, it is your job to have your Leonberger develop into a loving, balanced being.
Then I can assure you, there is no sweeter and more enjoyable
dog than a Leonberger. 

Henk van Lobenstein