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Home of the Total Dog you can be Proud of!!
Ian Dunbar PhD, MRCVS
At eight weeks of age, many puppies already have incipient or
existing behavior and temperament problems. Most puppies are
severely under-socialized, even though the Critical Period of
Socialization is already nearly two thirds over. Few puppies are
housetrained or chewtoy-trained and hardly any have been taught to come, sit and lie down.
By the time they enter puppy class at 12-18
weeks of age, most puppies have already developed significant
behavior and temperament problems that are already beginning to
strain the puppy/owner relationship. Problems increase and rapidly
worsen as the puppy collides with adolescence, whereupon many dogs
are surrendered to shelters for rehoming.
The developmental course of behavior, temperament and training problems is all too common and usually starts with two simple
problems - housesoiling and destructive chewing -two utterly
predictable and easily preventable problems.
Puppies leave their original (breeder's) homes at eight weeks of
age - when the Critical Period of Socialization is nearly two
thirds completed. Certainly, many breeders do a brilliant job
socializing, handling and training the young pups. However, some do
not. Indeed, far too many eight-week-old puppies are un-socialized,
un-housetrained, un-chewtoy-trained and haven't even been taught to
sit or lie down. For many of these puppies, their future already
If not immediately trained in their new homes, the puppies will
eliminate anywhere and everywhere and chew anything and everything
(as they have become accustomed to doing in their previous home).
Un-housetrained and destructive puppies are often relegated to the
backyard by the time they are four to five months old. The puppies
continue to eliminate and chew indiscriminately, and soon learn to learn to dig, bark and escape in their quest for some form of
occupational therapy to pass the time of day when left in the yard
alone. The lonely puppies become stressed and bored. When
occasionally invited indoors, they are overcome with excitement and
express their joy by enthusiastically circling, barking and jumping-
up and so, they are invited indoors less frequently. When neighbors
complain of the excessive barking, the dog, now a six-month-old
adolescent, is further confined to the basement or garage. With
nothing to do in solitary confinement, the dog destroys the
basement. Living in social isolation, the dog begins to de-
socialize and is now less inclined to want to greet his owners
during their brief and increasingly infrequent visits. The dog
becomes wary and harder to catch and may become agitated and snap
and lunge if approached. By eight-months of age, the dog is
abandoned or surrendered to a shelter to be re-homed.
Rehoming unwanted adult dogs is an extremely expensive, time
consuming and labor intensive business. Also, rehoming is not
always easy or successful. Many shelter dogs carry significant
behavioral baggage from the lack of training in their previous home(s). Whereas most behavior problems may be resolved fairly quickly
and easily with appropriate shelter training, dogs with temperament
problems, such as anxiety, aggression, and universal fearfulness,
often take months, or years, to rehabilitate. > For many unwanted
shelter dogs, rehoming is simply not an option.
The time to rescue unwanted adult dogs is during puppyhood. All
unwanted shelter dogs were once perfectly normal puppies. Friendly
and mannerly (socialized and well-trained) puppies stay in their
original homes and don't require rehoming.
When choosing a puppy at eight weeks of age: owners must realize
that all puppies are different. They may carefully choose one that
is well-socialized and well trained, or they might select a "lemon"
- a puppy that is already so developmentally retarded that they
will be playing catch up for the rest of the dog's life.
At eight weeks of age, all puppies should be: well-socialized,
especially to children, men and strangers; eager to approach;
easily handled; housetrained and chewtoy-trained; and at the very
least trained to come, sit, lie down, stand and rollover.
Having chosen a puppy at eight weeks of age: owners must appreciate
the enormous urgency for the puppy's socialization and training
over the next few weeks and months. There is so much to do and so
little time to do it. The most pressing items on the puppy's
educational agenda are: Socialization, socialization and
socialization - especially with children, men and strangers; and
errorless housetraining and chewtoy -training to prevent excessive barking and separation anxiety.
Regardless of breed or breeding, owners will make or break their
puppy during his first couple of weeks and months at home. With
timely and appropriate education and training, the puppy will
survive, and thrive, to thoroughly enjoy spending his sunset years
with his wonderful owners.
Obviously, some puppy owners will require much more guidance than
that offered on dogSTARdaily. that offered on dogSTAR
dogSTARdaily will keep the puppy on the right track until the
owners come under the expert tutelage of a trainer in puppy class.
Early socialization and education will not save every puppy but it
will save most, keeping them in their original homes. And
certainly, preventing problems during puppyhood is considerably
easier and quicker and a whole lot more fun than the prospect of
trying to rehabilitate and rehome an unwanted two-year-old dog that
is universally fearful and snaps at strangers.
Please forward this email article to every prospective and new puppy owner
that you know.
JayDee's Proud-Haus Shepherds
Jen Proud, BS, CVT, CT (ASCP) TCVM VTS