Posted by: secondchancehumanesociety | September 7, 2010

Proper Puppy Socialization & Training

Violet the imdogenator

Second Chance Humane Society Pet Column –

Proper Puppy Socialization & Training

My name is Violet and I am one of 8 puppies placed at the Second Chance Shelter recently in our quest to find new homes.  As you look at my photo your heart will melt for, I will admit, I am adorable and immediately emit the human urge to hug and nurture me.  And, I know how to exploit this urge by giving a little puppy lick here and a tail wag there…but before you cave into my bundle of cuteness I hope that you will reflect upon what it means to adopt a puppy…

Similar to human development – the early stages of puppy development really holds an impact upon a dog’s overall life.  Thus, when becoming a puppy parent it is critical that this responsibility is taken seriously.  Proper training and socialization can prevent many of the “problem behaviors” that dogs later adapt in compensation for not receiving this kind of attention. 

Having been born a mere ten weeks ago, my siblings and I are finding the world an exciting but sometimes scary place.  Every day we see, hear, smell, taste, and touch new things, some of which can be frightening at first.  Thus, socialization is the best way to help us with this and it is very critical that this occur as soon, after eight weeks of age, and regularly as possible.

 In the process of socialization, puppy parents must be mindful of about the risk for puppies (with undeveloped immune systems) being exposed to potentially fatal diseases from other animals such as parvo, distemper, and hepatitis.  Thus, you want to be clear with your veterinarian when your puppy has completed his vaccinations and can be safely introduced to other animals.  Until then you can begin the socialization process in your home with pets you know are vaccinated.   Introduce your puppy to different types of people and pets: loud, quiet, young, old, tall, short, active, inactive, etc.   Also, have people wear hats, glasses, backpacks, gloves, masks, helmets, big jackets, hoods, and other possibly threatening stimuli. 

Additionally you want to make sure your puppy’s socialization processes are positive.  If your puppy is afraid of certain objects, remove the stimuli and re-introduce very slowly, adding positive reinforcement to the situation like treats and praise.  For example, if your puppy is afraid of someone wearing a hat, have that person feed the puppy yummy treats.  This way the puppy will learn to associate the initially frightening stimuli with something positive instead.

To expand upon the socialization process you should also start basic training.  Teach your pup how to gently accept treats, chew on toys rather than human appendages, not to jump on people, walk nicely on a leash, and about appropriate/inappropriate barking.  Also teach important basic commands such as sit, down, stay, & come. 

Training your puppy to be content when left alone for certain periods of time is critical too.  Using enrichment toys such as Kongs and safe chew toys (available at the Second Chance Shelter) can really provide a benefit to this phase of training.  Come in to the Shelter today to meet me and discuss with the Shelter staff whether you are ready to commit to raising an adjusted and socialized dog.

Call the Second Chance Helpline at 626-2273 to report a lost pet, learn about adopting a homeless pet, or about the SCHS Spay/Neuter Financial Assistance, Volunteer & Foster Care, or other Programs.  Visit our shelter pets online: www.secondchancehumanesociety.org.  Direct Pet Column questions to:  kelly@secondchancehumanesociety.orgPhoto by Real Life Photographs.

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