Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Early Socialization Screw Ups

I have told people time and again that it is best to get a puppy that is around 8 to 9 weeks of age. That is the best age for a pup to be transferred from its litter to a human family. Any younger or older, and you risk that the pup will have more lifetime behavioral problems. What I hadn't considered was that getting a pup of any age, from a pet store, is the same as getting a puppy that is either too young or too old. Most pet stores are obtaining puppies that have been removed from the litter at about 4 to 5 weeks of age. It has been well known by dog trainers, for a very long time, that pet store puppies have more behavioral problems than those from a reputable breeder. We have normally chalked that up to the fact that so many of these pups come from puppy mills, and the abnormal environment of a retail store. What we haven't emphasized was the impact of leaving the litter so soon. Now a study has been done that shows some real, and disturbing, statistics based upon this phenomenon. Over at KC Dog Blog, you'll see this article, "Academic paper on behavioral challenges when dogs removed from litters too young", which lays out the gruesome facts. You can bet that if you tracked the different fates of dogs, those properly adopted vs. those adopted outside the recommended age range, you'd find a lot of those horrible stories we all hear about coming from the latter group. How many shelter dogs, and dog attacks, result from just this one factor? We don't know yet, but I bet there is a causal relationship. Bottom line: if you want a pup, find a reputable breeder and get an 8 to 9 week old puppy. If the breeder insists on selling you a young pup outside these ranges, then take a pass and go somewhere else. You're either dealing with an ignorant or greedy breeder.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Thinking In Advance

Many people don't plan long term when getting or owning a dog. I think years in advance when owning or training a dog. I choose English commands, so if the dog is lost someone else can command the dog, and if the dog is in rescue a trained dog is much more adoptable. I tell everyone to extensively socialize their dogs. If you were to pass away, a confident and happy dog is more adoptable; it is also more obedient and easier to live with. I recommend solving your dog's behavioral problems instead of putting up with them. It's safer for the dog and more pleasant for everyone. So, don't be lazy, think ahead.