In the last 2 weeks I have had two clients call me with dog behavior issues in their relatively young puppies. After speaking with both of them, the common denominator in both of their dog’s behavior, was lack of socialization of these puppies at an early age and no dog training.
What was even more interesting was the reason they had not taken their dogs outside of their home or backyard to meet the world- FLEAS!
Now I realize fleas are a bother and nobody wants their dogs to have fleas. However, in the scheme of things, keeping your new puppy from meeting the world, seeing new sights, smelling new smells, meeting children, other people and other dogs has much more potential for creating problems than a flea does. A flea comb used on your dog after a walk works wonders!
Remember, the window of socialization for a puppy starts closing between 4 months and 4.5 months of age. So what does this mean exactly? It simply means that after that time, puppies tend to become more fearful of places, smells, sights and people they have not become accustomed to which can then lead to dog behavior that you do not want – such as anxiety, fearfulness, snapping, barking.
Remember – You must always be aware, that until your puppy is fully vaccinated, there are certain places you don’t want to take them to such as dog parks or the large retail dog stores which are frequented by all types of dogs – many unvaccinated. Back when we found Sammy, our black lab, (under a truck at 7 weeks of age) one of the first things we did after his initial vet visit was to begin to socialize him, keeping in mind where he was with all of his vaccinations. We took him over to our local grocery store and stood outside the door where people exit. As people came out, including kids, we simply said, “Hi, we’re working on getting our puppy used to lots of people and lots of noises, would you mind petting Sammy?” Now who could resist an absolutely adorable 8 week old lab puppy?? So Sammy got lots of pets from women, kids, men etc. and he was a happy puppy! Also be sure to have people come to your home to visit when your puppy is little so the puppy understands that it is ok for strangers to come into the house.
When you socialize your puppy early, do puppy training early and begin dog obedience training at about 5 months of age, it really sets your dog up to be more well balanced and a better behaved dog. Here’s a link to one of my articles on getting a new puppy or dog. Enjoy.