It’s a Family Affair
Dog are pack animals by nature, so when it’s time to leave her mother, your puppy will want to become part of your “pack.” The moment you adopt your puppy, it becomes your responsibility as a good dog owner to make sure she is a well-adjusted member of your family.
The first three months of your puppy’s life are the perfect time to start exposing her to new people, animals and other environments. These formative months are when being social outweighs fear. By exposing her to lots of different situations early, it will enable her to cope better with new experiences later on.
In an article entitled “Puppy Socialization” by the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, it states:
“Enrolling in puppy classes prior to three months of age can be an excellent means of improving training, strengthening the human-animal bond, and socializing puppies in an environment where risk of illness can be minimized. In general, puppies can start puppy socialization classes as early as 7-8 weeks of age. Puppies should receive a minimum of one set of vaccines at least 7 days prior to the first class and a first de-worming. They should be kept up-to-date on vaccines throughout the class.”
Socializing your new puppy is a very important step on the road to developing a wonderful companion dog. Puppies should be handled from birth so that they become accustomed to being touched in all parts of their bodies. Behavior problems such as unnecessary barking, guarding, chewing, anxiety or aggression can be prevented by early socialization. These “bad” behaviors are the most common reason for an owner to surrender their dog. Interestingly enough, these unwanted behaviors tend to have less to do with breed specific characteristics, meaning early socialization can work for all breeds.
There are two types of puppy socialization:
- Active: structured classes such as obedience or agility
- Passive: your puppy just exploring on its own
Ways to socialize your puppy:
- enrolling in a puppy class
- holding and petting her
- teaching basic commands such as sit, stay, down and come
- involving her in your daily routine
- grooming your puppy
- providing toys and games
- taking rides in the car
- taking walks
Adding a puppy to your family is a life-long commitment that requires the active participation of all members of the family. The effort you put into your puppy will pay off in the joy of having a well-behaved dog and happy member of the family that will give you years and years of devotion.
Check out our Puppy Preschool and Puppy Agility Classes online.