The first three months of your puppies life is the best time to start training and socializing. Because the first three months are the period when sociability outweighs fear, this is the primary window of opportunity for puppies to adapt to new people, animals, and experiences. Incomplete or improper socialization during this important time can increase the risk of behavioral problems later in life including fear, avoidance, and/or aggression. Behavioral problems are the greatest threat to the owner-dog bond. In fact, behavioral problems are the number one cause of relinquishment to shelters.
Behavioral issues, not infectious diseases, are the number one cause of death for dogs under three years of age.
Puppy socialization classes can offer a safe and organized means of socializing puppies and more quickly improve their responsiveness to commands.
Positive and consistent training is associated with fewer behavioral problems and greater obedience than methods that involve punishment and/or encourage human dominance.
Early and adequate socialization and programs of positive training can go a long way to preventing behavior problems and improving bonding between humans and dogs. While the first three months is the most important socialization period in a puppy’s life, owners of puppies that have passed this milestone are strongly encouraged to continue to socialize their puppies to as many people, pets, and locations as is practical.
Side Kick Dog Training offers puppy classes for young puppies up to 5 months and older puppies up to a year. We try to keep the puppies with other puppies of the same age so they are on the same emotional level. Playtime with peers is better with puppies of the same age group. Size is a factor but large puppies learn to play gently and small puppies develop confidence by being with other pups.
Free Resources that have great information about positive puppy training can be found on Ian Dunbars website www.dogstardaily.com He has made a free download available of his book "After You Get Your Puppy". This has lots of information on how to raise a well-adjusted furry family member. Other helpful websites can be found in the links section of this blog.
The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) has released a statements emphasizing the importance of early puppy socialization, dominance theory, and punishment.
The bottom line is if you start early you can handle problems as they are develping before they get out of hand and keep your puppy from having bad habits that are annoying and hard to get rid of. Having a good relationship with your puppy from the start is the key to a lifetime of enjoyment of your pet.