The Importance of Training and Socializing Your Puppy : Canine 101
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The Importance of Training and Socializing Your Puppy

by Konnie Hein on 02/09/16

Have you ever heard that you should "let a puppy be a puppy," and not to start training until the puppy is a young adult? Have you ever heard that you shouldn't take a puppy anywhere until the puppy has been fully vaccinated?

What if I told you that this well intentioned misinformation has the potential to cause you more headaches than any other bad training advice?

Follow me though some scientific jargon for a moment. The single most important period of the developing puppy's life is called the "imprinting period," and it generally describes the first 16 weeks of the puppy's life. The portion of this period relevant to this discussion is from approximately 3 weeks to 16 weeks, and is divided into the First Socialization Period and the Second Socialization Period. The First Socialization Period is from 3 to 7 weeks and is ultimately the responsibility of a litter's mother and their breeder. A stable, comfortable environment with positive, age appropriate exposure to new things can set the stage for a great temperament later on. (And stay tuned, because I'll cover the importance of selecting - and how to select! - a great breeder in a later blog.)

The Second Socialization period, from 7 to around 16 weeks, starts at the time that many people bring home their new puppy. At this point, it is entirely up to you to help them navigate and understand the world around them. What a puppy learns during this period (both good and bad!) will likely last a lifetime. Positive and negative impressions are developed, and the puppy can easily learn new things. This is actually the period of fastest learning, and habits are quickly formed. Once this period is over, socialization becomes much more difficult and learning slows. The next period is the Juvenile Period (which includes teething), followed by the sometimes nerve-wracking Adolescent Period.

Still with me? Good, because we're now getting to the most important part of this blog entry.

In essence, if your new puppy arrives in your home at around 8 weeks of age, you only have 8 weeks to teach your puppy the necessary social skills to ensure that you'll end up with a well-adjusted, socially stable adult dog. This means that, aside from some genetic or early environmental influences, you are completely and totally responsible for preventing anti-social behavior such as aggressive barking, biting, shy behavior, and environmental issues such as fear of loud noises or new things.

I'm not saying that you can't fix behavior problems later on in a dog's life (you can), but wouldn't it be easier to address socialization and training when the puppy is in a prime state for learning that lasts a lifetime? It is definitely easier. I'm also not saying that the risks of common puppy diseases (such as parvovirus) should be completely dismissed in favor of taking your puppy everywhere. Safe socialization is critical.

Wait a minute, you ask, do you mean great dogs aren't "born that way?" Pretty much! The responsibility to ensure that you end up with an enjoyable canine companion for the next decade or more is completely yours. Proper training AND socialization at an early age are incredibly important.That's a lot of pressure on you, the new puppy owner, to make sure you get it right!

If you

1) Have never raised a puppy before, or

2) Have raised a puppy and it grew up to be a dog with behavior or training issues, or

3) Have already seen behavior issues brewing in your new puppy, or

4) Have raised a puppy successfully, but know that all puppies are different so additional guidance might be necessary

then your best bet is to seek guidance from an expert. I've helped many people to successfully raise their puppies, and I've raised many of my own. I understand the pressure you feel to raise your puppy the right way, and I'm happy to share my techniques with you through our Rock-Star Puppy Program.

This Program includes 4 lessons in the comfort of your own home and scheduled at your convenience. The information I can share with you in just 4 lessons is more than you can get in a crowded and generic group puppy class. We'll cover everything from housebreaking to safe socialization to manners and more. The lessons are personalized so you know you'll be getting information that will be helpful to your situation.

Enrollment in this program also qualifies your puppy for our "Price Rate for Life," which means that your puppy will get a discounted rate for any future private training lessons - FOR LIFE! And, for your peace of mind, I also include 30 days of FREE phone and email support. Contact us to tell us about your new puppy and to hear more about our Rock-Star Puppy Program. We'd love to hear from you!

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