Practical Advice on Getting from a Puppy to a Dog.
Puppies come in many forms and sizes, but they all need the finest start in order to grow into the best dog imaginable. Depending on the personality and early circumstances of each individual, the journey from puppy to adult might follow many distinct paths. Take, for example, Justice and Steve.
Justice was a male Golden Retriever puppy that was 10 weeks old.
Before he was adopted, he was an extroverted puppy who got along well with his littermates. Both his father and mother were sociable, well-adjusted dogs. When an unexpected individual approached the litter, the pups eagerly rushed over, hoping for some love.
Justice exhibited slight fear in new circumstances after leaving his littermates to join his new family, but he was eager to meet different canines and humans. Justice remained moderately nervous around unknown adult dogs for the following several weeks, but he immediately calmed down whenever a dog displayed friendly behavior.
Steve was a ten-week-old male Terrier mix whose history was unknown. Steve’s parents were never introduced to his owners. When Steve was adopted, he displayed minor apprehensive behavior with new individuals, such as being cautious when approached.
He was really pretty thrilled, even excessively so, once he started interacting. Nonetheless, his owners noticed that when Steve was picked up by a strange person, particularly outside their house, he became quite calm. When they told Steve’s expert veterinarian about this adorable behavior, she immediately recognized it as a red sign. She suggested that Steve may not be as at ease as the proprietors assumed.
In fact, deep sedation might be an indicator of anxiousness! Furthermore, the owners reported that although Steve got along well with tiny dogs and pups, he cowered when a big adult dog approached him. At eleven weeks old, Steve played well with the other pups in his first puppy class, but when the trainer’s loving adult Australian Shepherd approached, Steve hissed.
Not fiction, but facts
We often hear dog owners express disappointment that their previous dog was not more like their present dog, or vice versa. Some trainers have also claimed that you can treat all puppy habits in the same manner. The truth is that not every puppy is made equal. In the end, both genetic and environmental factors—nature and nurture—influence behavior.
Puppies in the womb face the same challenges as their mothers. Early sickness and poor nutrition might put a puppy at risk for developing behavioral problems. Even littermates do not share all of the same genes and will not grow in the same manner when it comes to behavior.
Although you aren’t beginning from scratch, you may have a significant impact on your puppy’s development. We can’t change the genetic composition of the puppy (an adult Great Dane won’t fit beneath your aircraft seat! ), but we can give a stimulating environment to assist each puppy reach her full potential. The best strategy is to introduce a young puppy to a broad range of social encounters as well as a diversity of sights, sounds, and smells, all of which will help the dog create a solid behavioral foundation.
There are many misunderstandings regarding what socializing can and cannot achieve.
Is it necessary for dogs to be adopted between the ages of six and eight weeks to form a link with their new owners? No, puppies will build strong relationships with their new family even after they reach the age of eight weeks, as long as their early experiences with adults are pleasant.
Allowing your dog to jump up on people and yank on the leash when on a leash walk can result in hostility. Not at all. Jumping up to attract attention or to meet someone is a common dog habit. When your dog is anxious to explore the world around her, yanking on a leash is also a bad idea.
Jumping up and tugging may be uncomfortable, but as you grow your puppy, you must determine which of these common activities you will allow or not allow. Always keep in mind that when huge dogs leap up and pull, they might cause injury and irritate other people.
Allowing your dog to sleep on your furniture might lead to hostility. If the dog finds being relocated unbearable, sleeping on furniture might intensify existing aggressiveness. However, whether it can genuinely create hostility is unknown. If you wish, you may let your puppy to sleep on your furniture. Sharing furniture, on the other hand, might be dangerous if your dog has started to act aggressively when sleeping in these spots. For further information, talk to your veterinarian or a veterinary behaviorist.
What Does This Indicate?
Socialization is the process by which a dog learns to tolerate being in close proximity to members of other species or members of her own species.
Puppy socialization refers to the pleasant, safe, and planned introductions of pups to humans, dogs, and other creatures and environments.
Socialization lessons for puppies: Classes that are expressly intended to help students socialize. Although certain fundamental skills may be taught, compliance is not the primary goal.
Habituation is defined as a diminished reaction to a stimulus after repeated exposure.
Sensitization is a term that describes enhanced responsiveness to stimuli following repeated exposure. This is an unfavorable reaction that happens when a puppy grows more afraid with each encounter, rather than becoming used to it.
Systematic desensitization is a method of progressively exposing a person to a stimulus so that habituation might develop. Take a pause if you attempt to expose your puppy to anything or someone new and she trembles or tries to flee. She requires a methodical, gradual approach.
Is this really the case?
Of course, the difference between a Yorkshire Terrier and a Mastiff is obvious. However, they are more similar than distinct in other instances. Although various dog breeds seem and behave differently, they all have the same basic requirements.
Although different breeds have different proclivities for various activities, most behavioral repertoires are common. Dogs of all shapes and sizes are known to bark at strangers, lick food crumbs off easily accessible dishes, and sneak naps on empty couches. And all dogs start off their lives as pups. As a result, we can develop some generic puppy-raising principles that will benefit all pups and their parents. But first, let’s sort out the truth from the fantasy.
Whether you anticipate your puppy to grow up to be a giant or a little child, she will benefit from proper socialization. Biologists John Paul Scott and John L. Fuller’s groundbreaking study, published in their 1965 book Genetics and the Social Behavior of the Dog, reveals that there is a time during development when pups are most tolerant of novel stimuli. This time is referred to as the “socialization” stage.
The socializing stage in dogs starts at three weeks of age and lasts for around three months. Puppy socialization occurs between the ages of three and five weeks, during which events within the litter have a significant impact on future emotional behavior.
From six to twelve weeks of age, socialization continues as pups develop new social connections and build ties with other animals. Puppies get acquainted with humans, children, dogs, cats, and other creatures in their new home. Scott and Fuller refer to the six-to-twelve-week period as the essential phase for socializing. The term sensitive phase is used by many behaviorists since it implies that the time does not terminate suddenly.
It is true that around twelve to fourteen weeks of age, a dog may be more suspicious of new encounters. However, just because your puppy has beyond the optimal socialization age does not mean you should stop socializing her. In fact, as long as your puppy shows no indications of discomfort, you should continue to expose him to a variety of locations, people, and objects until he is legally a dog.
Dogs acquire social maturity between the ages of one and three years, depending on their size (small dogs develop faster). When dogs are socially mature, the severity of emerging behavior issues generally rises. Fearful of males wearing hats, a young dog could back away and bark politely.
As the puppy becomes older, she may take a step forward and bark more vehemently, leading to more common symptoms of aggressiveness including lunging and biting.
While the dog’s behavior alters as it matures, the underlying fear or anxiety that drives the behavior remains the same. Since the optimal socializing time has passed, changing an adult dog’s reaction just via social encounters is significantly more challenging. If you see a similar pattern of behavior in your pet, you should consult a veterinarian behaviorist.
We need to grasp three key behavioral characteristics to properly understand how socializing occurs. The first is habituation, which simply refers to the process of becoming used to something.
When you initially move next door to a railroad track, for example, you can lose some sleep, awake to every train’s whoosh and shriek (the stimulus in this case). You get used to it over time and sleep peacefully.
Sensitization is the second step. Instead of becoming used to something, a puppy grows more fearful with each encounter. As a result of repeated exposure, you develop a stronger reaction to a stimuli.
This is generally a negative reaction. Let’s say you like popping corn for a late-night snack. When your dog first hears the popper, she bolts from the room. You’d think she’d come out the next time to explore, particularly since the machine produces food and caused her no damage. Instead, even before you turn on the popper, your dog bolts.
Your dog has been sensitized: she anticipates the machine frightening her and flees ahead of time.
The third notion is systematic desensitization, which is the process of progressively exposing a puppy to stimuli in order to ensure that she grows used to it rather than sensitive to it.
Returning to the case of the dog that is terrified of the popcorn popper. She needs desensitization. The stimulus (the popper) must be given in such a way that the puppy does not flee. You could take the machine out and give your puppy already-made popcorn—no noise, and the machine will supply nibbles.
The machine is no longer as awful. Then, with the dog on the opposite side of the room, switch on the machine. Toss some snacks into the machine and turn it off. Your dog should gradually realize that, despite the machine’s loudness, it is not frightening.
Take a pause if you attempt to expose your puppy to anything or someone new and she trembles or tries to flee. She requires a methodical, gradual approach.
As you can see, the strength of the stimuli is crucial, so you’ll need to play about with how near it is, how loud it is, how unique it is, or a combination of these factors to assist your puppy learn not to be terrified.
Putting Together a Puppy Socialization Program
Determine which circumstances your puppy will most likely face as an adult and include them in her socialization. Start taking your puppy on vehicle journeys to destinations other than the veterinarian clinic if you want to travel with her as she grows up.
Introduce your dog to new surroundings in a non-aggressive, calm way. If she displays indications of fear or worry, such as reluctance or shrinking, don’t push her. Sit close for a time if she balks when you attempt to walk her by a fire hydrant, for example. Pet her, give her time to relax, and then move in closer. She could decide to approach the hydrant and have a whiff while she rests.
Recognize that some trepidation in unfamiliar settings is a natural and healthy element of the learning process. Reward her confidence with words of encouragement and a tiny reward. If your dog is only exhibiting typical apprehension in a new setting, she should eventually relax and become more interested after a few exposures to the stimuli.
Address any issues right away; they won’t go away on their own. If your dog is becoming increasingly apprehensive or nervous in ordinary circumstances, consider setting up a gradual exposure (systematic desensitization) for certain issue areas. If you’re not sure, talk to a veterinary behaviorist, your veterinarian, or a trained trainer.
My puppy, on the other hand, is young and vulnerable!
Your veterinarian may advise you not to take your puppy out in public until she has finished her immunization series. This has caused disagreement among puppy owners and vets.
Puppies may get dangerous infections such as parvovirus if they mingle with other dogs or even go down the street, according to veterinarians.
It’s crucial to note that your puppy will have past the critical period for socializing by the time she’s finished her whole immunization series. We can’t argue that moving your puppy out of her safe home surroundings to experience the world poses no danger.
However, the danger of a puppy developing a significant behavior issue as an adult is considerably larger than the likelihood of her succumbing to a catastrophic sickness. You may also foresee and limit some dangers with a little caution.
Follow these guidelines to make socializing safe:
- Bring your puppy away from regions where there are unvaccinated or stray dogs.
- Do not come into touch with infected dogs.
- Do not allow your puppy to smell or consume the excrement of other animals, especially dogs.
- To assist avoid the transmission of illness, make sure any puppy class your pooch attends has readily cleaned surfaces.
- Vaccinate your puppy as directed by your physician.
Myths About Courtesy
Because developing social skills—or, to put it another way, manners—is a key component of your puppy’s early education, it’s vital to consider what humans may term socially inappropriate activities.
Consider these examples:
- Why do dogs want to sleep on couches?
- Why do dogs outrun their owners on walks?
- Why do dogs welcome humans by jumping upon them?
Some may interpret these activities as a dog’s desire to rule the home and dominate you. You may be concerned that letting your dog to indulge in these activities may lead to aggressive behavior in your puppy.
We can guarantee you that this is not the case. To summarize, the majority of socially inappropriate actions, or misbehaviors, are just typical canine activities. To put it another way, puppies are dogs. And when a dog, big or tiny, discovers a rewarding behavior, they will repeat it again and over.
Let’s go through those questions again:
- Dogs may prefer to sleep on sofas because they are plush, smell like their favorite humans, and everyone else in the home sits on them.
- Dogs may run ahead of their owners on walks because they are anxious to explore the new environment and humans are much too sluggish.
- Dogs may leap up to greet humans because being close to their faces enables for more effective communication or just because enthusiastic welcomes are more enjoyable.
Is it Necessary for My Dog to Share?
You may have heard that dogs are expected to share or even renounce food and other valuable objects when asked. While your dog is eating, what should you do? Allowing the puppy to eat in solitude, patting and embracing her as she eats, and frequently removing her food dish away to encourage sharing are all suggestions.
The truth is that some pups don’t mind sharing, while others don’t.
It’s unclear how many pups are sharers versus guarders. A puppy’s reaction to having her food taken away is influenced by a variety of circumstances. Because the meal is only delivered once or twice a day, it might be quite valuable. The puppy might be starving.
Perhaps the puppy learnt to fight for her food because her littermates were bullies, or because her family kept taking it away! How would you react if you were at a restaurant with your second mouthful of chocolate mousse on the spoon and the waiter gave you a massive embrace before snatching your dessert, including the spoonful you were holding?
There is no definitive answer as to whether a single intervention can or should be used to promote sharing or to avoid future guarding tendencies. Your puppy may grow up to be unconcerned about the presence of people during her meal. She may not like having visitors around. In any situation, it’s best to just go about your business and let your dog to eat in peace.
Certain treatments, particularly those that entail frequently taking food away, have been shown to exacerbate any inherent inclination to behave aggressively when eating. Remember the notion of sensitization, which states that repeated exposure to a stimulus causes an increase rather than a decrease in the response.
Take, for example, Murphy, a three-month-old Cocker Spaniel puppy. He was preparing to tuck into a delectable supper.
He was starving. He has small teeth, so chewing his crunchy food takes a long time for him. Murphy’s owner, Jean, grabbed his plate as he pondered his duty. Murphy had never considered that a human may desire part of his dog chow before. He was more awake the following day while he ate. He started to eat more quickly. Murphy ate as though he were hungry, Jean informed her veterinarian.
When Jean reached for his plate, Murphy started to glow and stiffen somewhat after a few days. That message would be plain to another dog: “Mine!” Murphy’s vocabulary, though, was unfamiliar to Jean. Murphy’s warning was disregarded by Jean.
Murphy became perplexed and irritated. With this extraterrestrial species, his messages were ineffective. What should I do? Murphy was forced to use more forceful signals. When he saw Jean approaching his dish, he started to snarl and growl. He desired his meal!
Murphy discovered that approaching a person when he was eating may result in an uncomfortable situation. Taking a puppy’s dish away repeatedly may, at the end of the day, develop a habit of aggressive behavior.
Finally, leaving your dog alone while she feeds could be the best option.
However, in houses with small children, someone may approach by mistake (despite the fact that children should never be left alone with a dog, especially while the dog is eating!). You’ll find some safe activities under “Food Handling Advice” that will encourage your dog to enjoy companionship as she eats.
Food Handling Suggestions
You may just leave your dog to eat in peace. Accidents do, however, occur. Perhaps a guest or a youngster will see a stray kibble and feel compelled to place it in the dog food bowl. The principle of sharing may then be taught for a cause.
Place your puppy’s bowl on the floor and let her a minute or two to eat.
Place a spoonful of cottage cheese on a spoon near her.
While your dog is eating, say “bonus” happily and drop the loaded spoon into the dish. 4. Repeat every day until your puppy looks up excitedly when she hears “bonus.” Then astound her. Wait for a few feet away and give her some time to eat. Then approach her with the tasty complement. Say “bonus” as you approach her and place the goodie in her plate. Your puppy should be more receptive to people who approach at this age.
Note: If your puppy stiffens, snarls, or growls, stop doing this activity and see your veterinarian or a veterinary behaviorist for help.
What Should We Do First?
Justice, the Golden Retriever we met at the start of the chapter, looked to be a happy puppy. His caretakers performed a simple socializing procedure. Justice took part in puppy socialization sessions. Only friendly dogs were introduced to him.
Even loving older dogs curled their lips at Justice in reaction to his demanding puppy antics on occasion. He stepped back. He was learning to respect adult dog communication while also understanding that tolerance has its limitations. Justice’s owner would have interfered if he had rejected these polite warnings by discreetly removing him from the situation.
Justice went to a variety of dog-friendly establishments. He accompanied me on bank excursions and strolls around the farmers’ market. Because his owners did not have children, they went to places where Justice could meet a lot of lively kids. Justice has previous baseball, soccer, and skating experience. Regardless of the location, Justice happily jumped into the automobile for his next adventure.
Justice’s owners wanted to display him at breed exhibitions, obedience contests, and field trials. They were advised to take him to busy and loud situations to improve his capacity to function and avoid distractions. Justice’s owners carried him to field trials when they could, initially keeping him a comfortable distance from the loudest places, anticipating his urge to perform.
Since Steve, the Terrier mix, exhibited signals of dread, his owners had various worries. As part of his socialization, his owners had to learn to detect these indicators. Steve was progressively exposed to various settings in order to avoid triggering fear.
Steve’s owners scheduled everyday contacts with strangers wherever feasible. At each excursion, Steve was supposed to meet five new individuals. On all trips, his owners were told to pack snacks. Every stranger might give Steve a sweet treat to teach him that strangers bring him good things.
Steve’s first encounter with huge canines was similarly handled with caution. Only canines that were exceedingly patient and tolerant were allowed to engage with Steve. Steve’s owners would distract him with a reward or a toy if he was afraid (shaking, panting, or snarling). They didn’t hesitate to urge the approaching dog’s owner to stand aside so Steve could rest. They’d try again after a few minutes, this time softly inviting Steve to approach the other dog. Fearful contact with strange canines were avoided; a single poor experience might last a lifetime.
Steve’s owners had no intention of competing in dog contests with him. They expected him to be a nice friend. They needed to boost his self-esteem, but their goals were acceptable. They took their time with him. Steve’s owners continued socializing him in livelier surroundings as he developed confidence, allowing him to meet more active people and canines.
Consider your puppy’s objectives. What do you see yourself doing one year from now with your grown-up dog? Do you see your dog accompanying you to work and socializing with your coworkers and their pets during breaks? Do you want to have a family or adopt a cat? Do you want to leave the city and retire on a cattle ranch, or do you want to leave the suburbs and go to the city?
If your dog spends her first weeks at home, growing, she may be taken aback when she is thrown into the workplace. It’s possible that the influx of humans and maybe other canines will be overpowering. Bring your puppy to work from the start if the workplace is dog-friendly.
If you’re too busy to take regular bathroom breaks, have a pet-sitter or a friend come to the office to assist you. If you plan on having children, take your puppy to as many households with children as you can, or families with cats if you plan on having cats.
No one, of course, has a crystal ball. Dogs, thankfully, are very adaptable animals. Our pets usually accompany us as we transition from raucous college apartments to single houses, then back to lives with significant others and even children. Rather of leaving things to chance, do yourself and your dog a favor by exposing early pups to the sorts of scenarios that may arise in the future.
Introducing Your Puppy to Children
Whether or not you have children in your home, it’s a good idea to expose your puppy to the world of children. If you don’t have children, seek the support of a friend’s family to accompany their children to soccer games or shopping excursions as your dog develops. Allow your puppy to sit calmly and observe the youngsters while they laugh, scream, yell, and run about. Even clumsy toddlers are welcome to pet your dog. Just keep a tight eye on your puppy in case you need to gently block a rough touch or avoid a scratch from his sharp teeth.
Introduction of Your Dog to Children
With youngsters, always keep a watchful eye on your dog.
Allowing small children to pick up your dog is not recommended since he is still frail.
If your dog attempts to mouth or jump up on a youngster who reaches out to pat her, have a puppy biscuit on available. Ask your dog to sit for the reward to avoid any issues.
People exist in many shapes and sizes, not just children and adults, therefore you should socialize your puppy with both adults and children. Your dog should encounter individuals who are tall and short, black and fair-skinned. She should meet both young and elderly men and women. She should interact with persons who use canes, wheelchairs, and bicycles, among other things.
If your puppy learns to sit rather than leap up to get pets or goodies, you won’t have to be concerned when strangers touch her. Rather of attempting to modify this unpleasant but natural behavior, educate your puppy the greeting position you want her to adopt. You may assist your puppy to make a smooth transition to sitting for petting while she’s away from home by practicing the “sit” at home. If the person meeting your dog has a treat in hand, it will make for a smoother welcome whether your puppy is rambunctious or hesitant.
Allow visitors to pat her one or two times before stopping and giving her a little reward to aid her socialization. Working within your puppy’s comfort zone and being aware of her abilities to stay calm are key to her success. You want her to be interested, even thrilled, but not to the point of being unable to sit still.
It is critical that you do not chastise your dog if she leaps.
She won’t be able to figure out what went wrong. Your scolding may cause you to be hesitant to welcome new individuals. You don’t want to teach leaping on cue in another environment, such as tricks or a canine sport, since you don’t want to establish fear of humans or even jumping.
Contact with Other Dogs
Your dog will almost certainly come into contact with other dogs in her area. At the veterinarian’s office, there will be dogs. Other dogs could be out walking in your area. Your puppy’s social abilities with other dogs will have a big influence on the activities you can perform with her as she gets older.
Your puppy should understand that not every dog wants to play. Rather, she must understand that some dogs will be uninterested and others will be hostile. Your duty is to keep your puppy calm and quiet while carefully watching the dogs that don’t want to play. Allowing your puppy to meet unknown canines at random is neither safe nor suitable.
This is sometimes easier said than done. You could be dull to your pet. To gain a chance to play with another dog, she could tug or bark.
Don’t be boring; have some delicious goodies on hand. Reward your puppy for sitting and paying attention to you with a reward. While the other dog is passing by, have a rope or braided fleecy toy in your pocket and whip it out for a little tug game.