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Vet Advice: Socializing a Puppy

Vet Advice: Socializing a Puppy

Proper socialization of a puppy during the first few months of their life is critical in reducing fear-based behavior issues as they develop into adult dogs. Dr. Michele Drake offers some vet advice on how to properly socialize a puppy at a young age and provides insight on how it helps them be more comfortable with new people, places, and other dogs later in life.

Featured Quote:

What is a critical time period is between eight and 16 weeks for dogs to have a great socialization experience. By taking puppy classes and being introduced to new things and new places and new people, but in a very secure setting.


Video Transcript:

Hi. I'm Dr. Michele Drake. And I'm here today to talk to you about something that's super important and very near to my heart. I've been a veterinarian a long time and I see a lot of issues with behavior coming into my practice. These are dogs that are say between six months and a year and a half or even two or even older, and so much of that can be avoided if we get these dogs well socialized as puppies.

What is a critical time period is between eight and 16 weeks for dogs to have a great socialization experience. By taking puppy classes and being introduced to new things and new places and new people, but in a very secure setting. Meaning that we have some control over this. So I always tell people the importance of giving your puppy puppy classes is not so much that they learn to be like soldiers for us and super disciplined, but that they learn to look to us to manage situations so that they don't have to take on owning and being responsible for a lot of situations which then causes anxiety for them.


If they know they can look to you and can trust you that you're alpha over them and you have got things under control, then they will relax and not develop so many anxieties. So that's what really trying to avoid because quite often a lot of biting behaviors, a lot of just fearful behaviors are all based on fear. So the best way to avoid that is to get the dogs in a puppy class at eight to 16 weeks.

Unfortunately there's a lot of misinformation out there. Some breeders tell dogs not to start puppy classes until they're four months of age. By then we've completely missed the window of opportunity.

What we recommend is you go to puppy classes where all the dogs are vaccinated. A puppy is well vaccinated as long as you're vaccinated every three weeks until they're four months of age. They're just not able to mount a longterm immune response. But they're totally safe to be out and about in safe environments. When I say safe, the biggest concern I have is don't take puppies to say a dog beach because these are places we have large adult dogs, we can't always be certain how their behavior is going to be and we do not want your puppy getting roughed up by a big dog.

What we want you to do is take them to puppy classes, well managed, well controlled, all safe that somebody managing a puppy class is very well trained in what they're doing. We have a lot of great recommendations in our area, people that are very knowledgeable, and that your puppy is going to have a great opportunity in that they're going to learn to have fun with other dogs, other people and look to you for guidance and make sure that you've got things under control so they don't have to become anxious.

Certain breeds have less issues with this, and there are a lot of breeds that have a lot of anxieties. They're just they're more working type dogs. The dogs that are quite often super intelligent dogs are also ones that develop a lot of anxieties, and it's especially important to get these puppies into puppy class at eight weeks. So we're going to tell you to hit the ground running. As soon as you get that puppy, get him right into class. The sooner you get him in, the sooner we're going to start to address any potential issues we're going to have.

Now, sometimes you'll adopt from a shelter, which is awesome. Some of these dogs may have some anxieties or some fear behaviors already, and it doesn't mean we can't work with those. So I'm still going to encourage you highly to get those dogs into behavior classes to work with socialization because as they learn to trust you more and feel comfortable with you, it's important that you have guidance to help them get the cues that will allow them to relax and become more and more relaxed and lose some of those fears.

So puppy class, super critical, get in right away. But if you adopt an adult dog, that's fine; we still can benefit them greatly by puppy classes and most important to getting us trained so that we know the proper way to manage the dogs' behaviors.

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