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Monday, August 15, 2011

social networking in puppies

Butter came well socialized to people like my niece Carole who he hardly knew
I never really knew how important it was to get a young puppy out and about meeting and greeting  before the age of 16 weeks until I studied animal behavior.  Unfortunately, past teachings in veterinary medicine emphasised the need to keep a pup away from others until all the vaccinations were finished.  This prevented a puppy from having a chance to experience all the great things in the wide wide world during the open learning period between 6 to 14 weeks ( approx).  After 16 weeks, puppies enter a fear period where they are often timid of many things.  Waiting to get this pup out and about   makes it more difficult for this pup to learn fun things.  They can still learn, but they now have to get over an initial timidness then accept treats or rewards.  I was pretty lucky that I could take my dog to work. Walking them to work at 8 weeks, they were seeing cars, trains, bikes and other people.  I was socializing them without really  knowing it.  

Cooper and Daisy get to meet each other
two older puppies - the solid black is a bit timid
Take your pup to a puppy class that is focused on  learning to play nice with other dogs, meet and greet people and how to not be afraid of  loud noises.  We have these classes at Okaw Veterinary Clinic whenever we can gather a couple of puppies together. The focus of a puppy class is to learn how to be calmly curious and happy to see new things. We also teach the first commands of come and sit. There is also some time spent answering questions on house training, accepting grooming or other new puppy concerns.  The puppy classes are not about obedience, but about being a calm, well socialized dog.  The dogs that miss these classes often have problems later in life with fear of strangers, loud noises, or riding in the car.  They did not get that exposure as a young happy pup. They can learn as an older dog but it is often perplexing to the owner why this cute puppy backs away from friends and family.  If you have an older puppy, still take them to a class.  Don't be surprised if they may be the more shy one.  They can learn to open up and it will save a lot of problems.

pass the puppy helps with meeting unknown people
Think of holding back on socializing your puppy like holding a young child back from the playground  or preschool.  Like children, our puppies need to get out and socialize.  Lack of knowing all the good and scary things that life can offer makes for a very timid dog.  From this fear, aggression can unfold.  Then the aggressive dog is often given up to a shelter or worse, euthanized.  Socializing a puppy is a life saver.  If you are getting a puppy the 3 things  I feel are most important are supervised playtime with other pups, handling by and meeting unknown people, and lots of fun around loud noises.  Ask who ever is leading the class exactly what will be done.  If these components are not included keep looking. 

Mercy and Toby social networking