Being a pet sitter is quite a rewarding job. I have the opportunity to meet so many wonderful pets and their humans. Most of the time the dogs that I pet sit are well behaved and spoiled (only a good way) by their humans. But, there are some dogs that are lacking in social skills and acceptable behavior.
I have this one client that has a 5 month old pup that is absolutely wonderful. She’s loving and playful and everything you would want a puppy to be. For one exception, she hasn’t been socialized yet. She is now getting into all sorts of trouble, eating everything in sight, not behaving well when company comes over, and still piddling when she gets excited. The piddling part I am hoping she will out grow. She even has made herself sick because she ate part of a bush in the yard that is poisonous to dogs. As well as started to chew on furniture, not due to the lack of toys either.
The reason that I am told that she has not been socialized yet is because the Vet has told her parents that she cannot be around other dogs until she has had all of her vaccinations. Why she hasn’t had all by 5 months is a little confusing to me but, that’s Vet’s call. After raising 4 dogs over the last 20 years, experience has taught me that having all their shots by the age of 12 weeks is fine for them. In the meantime taking them on outings in the car and letting them see other dogs before their shots are finished have worked for us. Then at 12 weeks when the shots were done we would immediately get them out into public to dog parks, taking them on walks in the neighborhood, as well as meeting and greeting others.
Since a puppy only has a critical few weeks to become initially socialized between 8 – 14 weeks, it is imperative that all stimuli and experiences be positive ones. This is when the puppy is most inclined to absorb what is being introduced to them as well as whom they are being introduced to in a positive light. That’s just the way their little brains work. As you introduce your puppy to new experiences, people, other dogs, and situations; make sure that you give them a special dog treat to reinforce the positive behavior that they display. They will learn to see other dogs not as threats but as buddies. They are pack animals and as such they need to be with their pack, whether they are at the dog park or visiting someone’s home on a play date.
Anyway, in the meantime my pet sitting puppy is suffering from lack of socialization. The boredom is setting in. Not being out on walks with other dogs and learning what other dogs say and do with each other is really hindering her future. So….. When I go to see her I make sure that we have at least an hour of leash time in the backyard. We work on our Heal, Sit, Wait, Turns, and Comes. I always reward her with special dog treats anytime she is doing well. I always try to tire her out so that she doesn’t get into too much mischief when I am gone.
Let this be a lesson to those with new puppies. Please, please, please….. When speaking to your Vet, ask them how it will affect your puppy if your puppy is not socialized in a timely manor between 8-14 weeks. Don’t let your puppy not become socialized in the critical time period. Make sure they get all of their vaccinations finished by 12 weeks. That way they have a fighting chance to be well balanced dogs when they grow up, and learn their own language from other dogs and get a chance to be in a pack environment. Don’t forget to sign them up for a K9 Kindergarten class as well. This will help you with the tools you will need for full on obedience training course.
Always remember to feed your dog with love and a wise heart.