On May 16, 2008, I was invited to do a Talk Show on the Radio called “Dog Ears”. The program “Dog Ears”, was broadcasted on three local AM stations of the Hudson Valley; WLNA 1420 , WBNR 1260, and WGHQ 920, all stations owned by Pamal Broadcasting. “Dog Ears” hosted by Richard Tirendi who is a dog groomer in veterinarian hospitals in the Hudson Valley. Our topic for the show, was early “Puppy Socialization”, which is important in a pups well being and behavioral health throughout the rest of its life.
An average dog owner should be aware that it is crucial in the pups early development to be socialized at an early age in a controlled environment, such as Puppy Kindergarten. The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior has issued their statement about early socialization outweighing not having all the vaccines into a pup before going into controlled classes. Your bond with your pet begins as soon as he or she arrives home, we are responsible for the health, well being and behavior of our pets. Please review the following statement:
AVSAB Position Paper on Puppy Socialization
The primary and most important time for puppy socialization is the first three months of life.1, 2 During this time puppies should be exposed to as many new people, animals, stimuli and environments as can be achieved safely and without overstimulation. For this reason, the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior believes that it should be the standard of care for puppies to receive such socialization before they are fully vaccinated.
Because the first three months are the period when sociability outweighs fear, this is the primary window of opportunity for puppies to adapt to new people, animals, and experiences. Incomplete or improper socialization during this important time can increase the risk of behavioral problems later in life including fear, avoidance, and/or aggression. Behavioral problems are the greatest threat to the owner-dog bond. In fact, behavioral problems are the number one cause of relinquishment to shelters.3 Behavioral issues, not infectious diseases, are the number one cause of death for dogs under
While puppies’ immune systems are still developing during these early months, the combination of maternal immunity, primary vaccination, and appropriate care makes the risk of infection relatively small compared to the chance of death from a behavior problem.
Veterinarians specializing in behavior recommend that owners take advantage of every safe opportunity to expose young puppies to the great variety of stimuli that they will experience in their lives. 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.
The Process of Socialization:
Puppies should be handled from birth, learning to accept manipulation of all body parts. Every effort should be made to expose them to as many different people, well-socialized animals, situations, places, etc. as possible. Puppies should be encouraged to explore, investigate, and manipulate their environments. Interactive toys and games, a variety of surfaces, tunnels, steps, chutes, and other stimuli can enrich the puppy’s environment. Puppies should accompany
their breeders/owners on as many car trips as possible. These exposures should continue into adulthood to maintain an outgoing and
Puppy socialization classes can offer a safe and organized means of socializing puppies and more quickly improve their responsiveness to commands.4 Each puppy should have up-to-date vaccinations and be disease and parasite free before entering the class. Where possible, classes should be held on surfaces that are easily cleaned and disinfected (e.g. indoor environments) . Visits to dog parks or other areas that are not sanitized and/or are highly trafficked by dogs of
unknown vaccination or disease status should be avoided.
Classes and at-home training should be based on positive reinforcement with frequent rewards Ã¢â‚¬â€œ praise, petting, play and/or treats. Positive and consistent training is associated with fewer behavioral problems and greater obedience than methods that involve punishment and/or encourage human dominance.4, 5,6
Time must be scheduled for puppies to play alone with their favorite toys (such as stuffed food toys) or take naps in safe places such as crates or puppy pens. This teaches puppies to amuse themselves, and may help to prevent problems of over attachment to the owners. Continuing to offer dogs a wide variety of experiences during their first year of life is also helpful in preventing separation-related behavior.
Proper confinement training using pens or crates helps to ensure that puppies have safe and secure places for rest and confinement. Puppies that are used to being crated will be less stressed if they must be hospitalized or be confined for travel by plane or car. Crates should serve as comfort or play areas.
Early and adequate socialization and programs of positive training can go a long way to preventing behavior problems and improving bonding between humans and dogs. While the first three months is the most important socialization period in a puppy’s life, owners of puppies that have passed this milestone are strongly encouraged to continue to socialize their puppies to as many people, pets, and locations as is practical
Before, I went to bed last night, I knew in my heart it would be the last time that Butchie would watch over me. His honor and love for me was incredible, a deep emotional silent bond. He came into the bedroom and positioned himself by the door for the last time. He died in my arms on the grass, as the sun rose, a last gift of love he has given me. He is now at peace with all his friends, and will wait for me to join him again. He will forever walk at my side, even though his physical presence is gone. He is running free now, with all my love with him.
Dr. Karen R. Garelick
385 Foxhall Avenue
Kingston, NY 12401