At Beverly Oaks, a lot of our dog owners mention that their dog has some behavioral issue that is not quite acceptable. Some examples include:
Excessive barking at people or animals outside the window,
Barking excessively while the owner/s is/are away from the house;
Destruction of the house or apartment while the owner, or owners, are away;
Jumping or escaping from an enclosed yard and roaming;
Fighting with other household dogs;
Unable to go on walks because of poor manners, lunging and barking at other animals, people, bicycles, etc.;
Aggression to other animals and people;
—– the list goes on and on.
Many of these behaviors have their foundation in what happened, or didn’t happen, to the puppy when it’s brain was open to learning about the world around him or her. This is the time when the puppy must learn about people, and other animals. Improperly socialized puppies become fearful, nervous and / or anxious dogs.
At Beverly Oaks, our new puppy owners receive a full package of material outlining all of the above information, as well as a list of suggestions for the owner to implement in order to start the puppy on the right track. Most owners don’t know these simple basics, so having a reference at home is important. We recommend Karma Dog Training for the puppy socialization classes, as well as any obedience training, or any additional training the pet may need later on in life. The folder also includes coupons for interactive food dispensing toys and Sophia Yin’s book “Perfect Puppy in 7 Days.” At each vaccination visit, we try to make the puppy’s experience happy and we carry the puppy into the back treatment as part of his/her early exposure to the sights and sounds of a vet clinic.
Call now to make your puppy’s appointment – 818-788-2022 or 818-788-7860.
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF PUPPY SOCIALIZATION
Puppies are social, inquisitive little creatures. The first three months of a puppy’s life is the best time to teach him/her about the world around them. They are naturally curious and less cautious at this time. SOCIALIZATION IS VITAL IN THE PREVENTION OF BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS. This time frame is the window of opportunity to expose them to as many new people, animals, stimuli and environments as possible. This will help them to learn about the world around them, and they will be less fearful and anxious as adult dogs.
Puppies who are not socialized during this window (4-14 weeks of age) are more likely to develop fear, and fear aggression, as well as other behavior problems later on in life.
BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS ARE THE NUMBER ONE REASON PETS ARE RELINQUISHED TO SHELTERS, AND A LEADING CAUSE FOR EUTHANASIA. SO, PROPERLY DONE, PUPPY SOCIALIZATION SAVES LIVES!
During this same timeframe, puppies’ immune systems are developing and they are receiving their first vaccinations. Veterinarians and puppy owners both worry about exposing the puppy to viral diseases, most notably Parvovirus. If the puppy has had its first Distemper-Parvo vaccination, it will be fine to take the puppy into protected situations, so that the puppy can begin the socialization process.
What are some types of protected situations for puppy socialization?
- Puppy socialization classes. A well run puppy socialization class combines socialization, puppy play, and the basics of owner education about how the puppy thinks. We strongly recommend positive reinforcement based training techniques. Locally, we have partnered with Karma Dog Training and strongly endorse their training techniques and puppy socialization classes. For more information, visit their website at http://www.karmadogtraininglosangeles.com/
- Car rides are good ways to expose the puppy to the sights and sounds of the outside world, while keeping him /her safe from potential harm.
- Controlled play situations with other vaccinated puppies and dogs, in back yards, courtyards, or houses.
- Walks in malls, if the mall allows.
There is always some risk of disease, but veterinarians are coming to realize that the risks of death due to behavior problems later on in life outweigh the risks of disease in a vaccinated puppy exposed to situations in clean/sanitized environments.
When should a puppy’s vaccination series begin? Read about vaccination schedules for puppies and adult dogs, and the diseases that vaccines protect against, here: Vaccinations for Puppies and Adult Dogs
WHAT ARE SOME OTHER GOOD TIPS TO HELP YOUR PUPPY BECOME LESS AFRAID OF THE WORLD AROUND HIM/HER?
1. Bring lots of treats and cut them up into small pieces.
2. Be positive – never yell at, or use any sort of physical reprimands that could scare your puppy.
3. Allow your dog to wam up to a situation with gentle encouragement.
4. Never force your puppy into a situation. Slow and easy is the way to go.
5. Reward your puppy with treats for exploring, especially shy puppies.
6. Simply exposing your puppy to a situation is not enough – how you socialize your pet will make all the difference!
7. If your puppy is overwhelmed, back up from the site or situation until the puppy is relaxed again. Start from this new distance to build up your pup’s confidence. Gradually get closer.
8. Allow your puppy to play with other dogs. This is where he/she will learn how to play appropriately and not bite too hard and will learn to read other dog’s play signals so that your pup knows when to back off. This is a normal process.
9. Refine your socialization – Over time your puppy will become expert at meeting new people, seeing new sights, hearing strange sounds and so on. Don’t stop! Continue the process!
10. CHILDREN ARE THE NUMBER ONE VICTIM OF DOG BITES. Postal workers, large men, and the elderly are also common targets of fear aggression. Be sure to socialize your dog to children of all ages, and the elderly. When construction workers, or postal service people come to the house, ask them to feed your puppy a treat!
11. Go to the vet for a “fun visit” on a day where your puppy is not scheduled for vaccinations. Play a game, or do some training with treats. Ask the hospital staff to give him treats, too. You can even ask the veterinarian or staff to take the puppy into the exam room and give treats. Always leave on a positive note! Do this regularly in the puppy’s first year of life. Some veterinarians will schedule 10 minute appointment slots to expose your dog to aspects of the vet visit such as handling the feet for a nail trim, being up on the table, etc.
WANT A “PERFECT PUPPY?”
Another resource that we strongly recommend is Dr. Sophia Yin’s “Perfect Puppy in 7 Days.” Dr. Yin, a veterinarian who works exclusively with behavior issues, trained a puppy for her father. During the process, she photographed every step of the way. Needless to say, you and I are not as skilled as Dr. Yin, so you and I shouldn’t expect our puppy to be trained in 7 days, but the basics will be in place.
A 24/7/365 ROLE
It is also important to remember that training and socialization happens every day. Every day you respond to something your puppy does – either good or bad. How you respond determines how the puppy will view the situation. So even if you train your puppy, if you pet him/her on the head when he/she barks at the mailman, you are saying “Good Job, Fido, bark more!” So every single day, you need to think about how your responses are encouraging your dog, or, conversely (and hopfully you aren’t), instilling fear and anxiety.
Learn a new technique to decrease your dog’s boredom during the day — read the blog article “Hunger and Games”