A Guide to the Whys and Hows of Puppy Socializing

February 13, 2010 by  
Filed under Puppy Behavior

The importance of socializing a puppy can never be over-emphasised, but what exactly does it mean? And how does one go about it? This article will explain to you what socialization is and how to put it into practice to ensure your dog has few, if any behavioural problems later in life and is able to interact well with dogs and other species.

Socialization is the process whereby a puppy learns to recognise and interact with other individuals of its own species, with people of different ages, races and genders, and with other animals that she is likely to come into contact with, such as cats and horses. The dog will learn the skills necessary to communicate with and interpret the other animals’ intentions, thus avoiding unnecessary hostilities. The dog will also learn to cope with stress and will suffer less as an adult in stressful situations. When talking of socialization, we often include habituation, that is, getting a puppy used to different places, sights and sounds so that she becomes confident in new situations and gets used to as many different stimuli as possible.

There are certain periods in a puppy’s development that are more important than others. The most sensitive socialization period begins at around 3 weeks of age and begins to reduce by 12 weeks. Peak sensitivity is between 6 and 8 weeks of age. It is important to remember that many young dogs need continual social interaction to maintain their socialization and failure to do so will mean that they regress or become fearful again. The 6-8 month period is another sensitive time for socialization and owners and trainers can use this window to further habituate and socialize their puppy to different surroundings, people and animals.

So, now we know why and when socialization should be carried out, we must look at how to undertake this. It is recommended that your puppy be introduced to new stimuli and other people and pets in a systematic and controlled way. Remember that these formative experiences will shape the behaviour of your pet for the rest of her life, so the idea is that they should be pleasurable and fun. They may well also be challenging, but if done in the right way, the puppy will learn that there is no threat and that she is safe to explore and meet new friends and situations without being fearful. This ensures the best chance of her developing a sound temperament and capacity to cope in all circumstances.

Early socialization is, of course, in the hands of the breeder and if they are conscientious and responsible they will ensure that the puppies are handled frequently, as well being exposed to normal household stimuli such as the television, vacuum cleaner, washing machine, doorbell etc. Puppies who are raised in a quiet kennel or room will have trouble adapting to a normal family environment.

So once the puppy is at home with you, it is your job to continue carefully introducing her to different people, animals and stimuli. It is however important to introduce the puppy to new people, places, objects and situations only when you can completely control the experience. A frightening experience will be detrimental – avoid unfriendly dogs and adults and children who do not understand how to be kind and gentle with animals. Invite friends to your house soon after you bring your puppy home to teach her that guests are friendly and welcome in her new home. Give your friends treats to give to the puppy so she is rewarded. Introduce her to one or two other friendly, healthy, fully-vaccinated dogs – she can join in with bigger groups once she has all her shots and has learned some dog social skills and has over-come any fear. Always be ready to intervene if your puppy is scared, threatened or being bullied by another dog.

When socializing your puppy, you must evaluate your lifestyle and environment and assess what situations are lacking. For instance, if you live in the country, take your puppy to town and gradually and carefully let her become accustomed to crowds of people, noise and traffic. If, however, you live in a town and these things are no problem, take your puppy to the countryside so she can see and smell farm animals and become accustomed to them too. Make sure your dog meets some cats who are dog-friendly. Don’t let her chase them as this will start a life-long habit that will be difficult to change. If your household has no children, introduce your puppy to some children who can regularly play gently with her. Always supervise them to ensure the children are gentle and that your dog is responding well and not becoming nervous or aggressive.

Remember always to protect your puppy’s health, before she is fully vaccinated. Don’t put her down on the ground where there may be dog urine or faeces, and don’t let her interact with other dogs that may carry disease. You can still socialize your puppy by carrying her into different situations and taking her in the car, allowing her to see many different things in a safe environment and she will get used to trips in the car at the same time. Use treats and praise to reinforce good behaviour. Do not comfort your puppy if she is fearful as this can be interpreted as praise for the wrong behaviour. Simply change the situation (i.e. ask an approaching person to step back or pick up your puppy to get her out of a difficult situation) until she feels safe and secure once more.

All interaction with your puppy at this age involves consistently rewarding desirable behaviour which will increase the likelihood the dog will repeat this behaviour. It will also help to prevent the development of undesirable behaviour.

Another helpful step would be to enroll in puppy socialization and training class. This provides a great opportunity for puppies to socialize with other dogs, for puppies to learn obedience training in a playful environment with plenty of distractions and also for owners to learn training and communication techniques.

For tips on hairless chihuahua and deer head chihuahua, visit the Types Of Chihuahua website.

Article Source: ArticlesBase.com

The Development of your Puppy

February 12, 2010 by  
Filed under Puppy Care

The progression of a puppy in the first ten weeks is very important. Just like a human baby, a puppy needs lots of love and care. There are many factors which can hinder a puppy’s physical & mental growth.

The First Two Weeks

A puppy is born blind and deaf, and for the first two weeks of his life, he doesn’t do a lot except sleep (around 90 percent of the time) and eat. While he can’t hear or see, he can feel and smell, and the combination enables him to find the all-important nipples on his mother. The mother dispenses milk that contains antibodies that help the pup survive for six to ten weeks. Propelling the pup to his mother are very undeveloped and weak legs. The puny legs also allow the puppy to huddle together with his siblings. The legs develop somewhat while the puppies are asleep because they twitch, something called “activated sleep.”

The puppy is nurtured by his mother, of course, which includes his mom licking his belly, which stimulates the little creature to defecate and urinate.

Depending on how the mother feels, human beings may or may not be allowed to pick up and nurture the puppies every day. When this occurs, it helps man and dog bond more easily.

The Third Week

During this week, the puppy’s other senses start to operate. He can detect light and dark, as well as movement, and will respond to large or sudden sounds. He will start to interact with his brothers and sisters, and he starts developing social skills by this interaction, i.e., feeling them with his paws and snout.

He learns to crawl, and his tail begins to wag. He can also venture from his mother to urinate on his own. In some cases, puppies, though not weaned, can be fed liquid food suggested by a veterinarian.

The Fourth and Fifth Weeks

During this period, the puppy’s muscular development increases to the point where he can walk, run, and pounce on his littermates. It is a period of endless exploration, and the puppy’s interaction with his siblings teaches him a lot, including when he’s biting too hard – which elicits a tough response from a littermate – and where he belongs in the aristocracy of the pack – he will alternately sleep at the bottom and top of the puppy pile.

If the puppy is misbehaving, Mom occasionally may get involved by growling at him. This discipline sharpens the puppy’s sense of right and wrong, which can make training easier. The human training process becomes so much harder if the puppy is not disciplined by his mother, like dogs that are orphaned.

The puppy is likely to stop suckling during this time as his teeth develop. Mom will chew, swallow and bring up food for her puppy to eat, which he is able to do in the fourth week.

The fourth week is usually the time when fear is developed: Most of a puppy’s fears are picked up by instinct from his mother, and will include growing scared of his owner if he is treated badly.

The latter portion of this time is when the puppy starts to become socialized with the human family, becoming more aware of the sights and sounds in the house, as well as interacting more with individual members.

The Sixth and Seventh Weeks

This is a time of wonder and curiosity for the young pup, but he is also very sensitive to emotional harm. His emotions will be revealed; he’ll start barking to get attention, whining to show fear, and whimpering if hurt. Take care not to scare or upset him in any way. It’s best that the dog be allowed to relate one on one with a human being, allowing trust to start to build. It is also a time of great fan. He should be given a supply of toys, because he will be very rambunctious and needs them to interact. If he goes too far when playing, his mother will put him in his place. When the puppies are weaned, have their own teeth, and can eat by themselves, the mother dog assumes the role of alpha or pack leader. The mother will show her puppies – using toys – when it’s appropriate to bite.

Puppies will also attack each other to establish dominance and to determine who the alpha is.

The Eighth Week

During the eighth week, the puppy will start to develop bathroom habits. He will use his own place to go, and it won’t be near where he eats. He will look for a place to relieve himself by sniffing about. The eighth week is also a crucial time in socialization – this is the time when fears can be established. You should take care to make sure that all the puppy’s experiences are positive ones, or he may carry around the fear for life. For this reason it is preferable to wait until after the eighth week to take a puppy to his new home. For example, if the puppy gets carsick, he may be afraid of cars, and it will take a lot of training and desensitization to get him to enjoy riding in one.

The Tenth Week

Now the puppies stop battling each other – the alpha and omega in the litter have been established. This is the best time to get a sense of a puppy’s personality. Any fear the puppy might have experienced in a strange place stops – he is ready to find a new home.

Is your dog’s health important to you? Read more great articles from Rex Lanigan at his great website.

Article Source: ArticlesBase.com

Puppy Socialization – Don’t Neglect This Important Part of Training Your Dog

February 12, 2010 by  
Filed under Puppy Behavior

Let’s face it, as a new dog owner, you probably haven’t thought too much about puppy socialization. However, this is a very important part of dog training. Many cases of canine aggression could have been prevented if the dog’s owner had only known how to socialize a puppy.

Why Is It So Important To Socialize Your Dog?

When you expose your dog to lots of different people, different animals, and different places, he learns for himself that new sights, sounds, and people are fun, not scary.

It’s better to start socializing your dog while he’s still a puppy. You may not know that the best age to socialize a puppy is when he’s between the ages of three and twelve weeks. A young dog who has good experiences with new people, other dogs, and even cats will be much friendlier and less fearful of people. This helps to prevent aggressive dog behavior towards strangers when he gets older.

However, it’s never too late to socialize your dog. It may take a little longer with an older dog, but you can still use canine socialization in order to help your pooch overcome a fear of strangers and be a happier, more trustworthy friend.

What’s The Best Way To Socialize A Puppy?

Actually it’s not that difficult to socialize your dog, if you’re willing to make a little effort.

Many dog trainers suggest a puppy preschool. This is a series of group-training classes for puppies and their owners. Usually there are about 10 puppies and their people, along with a couple of dog trainers. During these classes, the puppies start to learn basic dog obedience commands like sit, stay, and others.

But the obedience lessons aren’t the most important part of puppy preschool. The play sessions are where your puppy learns essential social skills. During the play sessions, the puppies are let off their leashes and allowed to play with each other. Why is this important?

First, your puppy is learning how to get along with unfamiliar dogs.

Second, since there are other dog owners and a couple of dog trainers present, this means lots of unfamiliar people, too. This is a great way for your puppy to learn not to be afraid of new people.

Third, it’s a controlled environment. The dog trainers make sure things don’t get too wild.

Don’t Stop Puppy Socialization Too Soon

Many dog owners make the mistake of thinking that since their dog has been to puppy preschool, their puppy is now socialized. This mistaken idea can lead to problems later on.

It’s important to continue to expose your young dog to new faces, new animals, and new places. Sometimes puppies who seemed to be well socialized at a younger age “forget” those early lessons. By the time your dog is between eight months and two years old, he may become fearful of people and start showing canine aggression towards strangers.

Here’s some food for thought: even though your puppy has learned basic skills during his first few months, it’s important to keep reinforcing puppy socialization lessons throughout your dog’s life.

Darlene Norris worked at a vet clinic and an animal shelter, and has had lots of experience with dogs. Visit her new website, No More Bad Dogs, to learn more about puppy socialization. Discover which dog training course she recommends at http://NoMoreBadDogs.com

Article Source: ArticlesBase.com

« Previous PageNext Page »