Constantly I hear about how a person has to wait with their puppy. Wait to socialize, wait to train, wait to work with their puppy. My response is always why? (I'm very good at asking this question, it's inbred in the inner workings of my core.) The answers I get are:
- "I don't have time
- I just have to be the boss
- My puppy is biting and aggressive
- "My puppy hasn't had all their shots, they will drop dead upon entering your door."
So now let's take a look at these common myths:
"I don't have time"
You have a puppy, a four legged young creature that relies on you for all his experience, social capabilities, and exercise. You get out what you put in. You can take a couple hours a week to prevent problems now. OR, you can take 6-10 hours and a lifetime of management later. A dog that may not enjoy other dogs, new environments, and people. Is that the dog you want?
"I just have to be the boss."
Dominance Theory has actually been disproven by several world renown animal behaviorists. At best it shuts dogs down. At worst it turns them into a very dangerous animal.
Patricia McConnell, PHD, Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist states in her book Other End Of The Leash that "The irony is that dominance is actually a social construct designed to decrease aggression, not to facilitate it...Any individual who truly has a lot of social status has enough power that he or she doesn't need to use force."
Just chew on that for a bit, and if you still aren't convinced hop over to Patricia McConnell's website. It is chalk full of information about dominance theory and why dominance techniques do far more harm than good.
"My Puppy is Biting and Aggressive"
Actually, your puppy is learning about this world and how they fit in. They navigate with their mouths! They don't have primate hands to touch everything. That's why the mouth comes in. Puppies biting/munching/chewing is totally normal and puppies biting each other is normal too. It's how they learn to regulate their bites and not do damage (otherwise known as bite inhibition.)
If you want to save your sofa, shoes, and children get them appropriate toys and chews. Monitor them when they are out and crate them when you can't monitor.
"My puppy hasn't had all their shots, they will drop dead upon entering your door."
Well, we've all heard this one. Whether from veterinarians, family, friends, clubs, breeders, etc. I'm here to tell you that the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior put together a position statement on socialization (socialization is letting your dog experience kind people, dogs, and environments.) They state outright that behavioral issues like fear, avoidance, and aggression are more likely to kill your dog. Let's be honest, very few people want to have a dog that barks and lunges at people and dogs, redirects to their owner with bites when people pass, cowers in fear out in public. This is the aftermath of missing this window.
Get your young puppies out and about. The Critical Socialization period (10-16 weeks) cannot be made up later. After this period you can try to socialize, but puppies that were lacking during this time don't have the same bounce back other puppies do. They may carry bad experiences with them for life, where as the well socialized puppy can handle a negative experience and rise above it.
MORAL OF THE STORY
Don't wait! Work with your puppy, meet other puppies and socially appropriate dogs, go places together.