Prevent Future Shelter Dogs
Silvia Golz, CPDT-KA
It was once believed that only mixed breed dogs were surrendered to the local animal shelters. Unfortunately, an estimated 25-30% of dogs surrendered to humane shelters are purebred dogs. As dog enthusiasts we take every step to ensure sound, healthy, well-adjusted, happy dogs. But, how do we prevent our dogs from becoming future shelter dogs? By properly socializing the puppy from the day he is born you will increase the probability of placement in a forever home.
Following is a review of the stages of canine social development, which can help us to better understand where socialization is the most critical.
The five stages of Canine Social Development: (Dunbar, Lindsay):
Neonatal Period – Birth to 13 days: Puppies are born deaf and blind. Sensitivities to pressure, movement, taste, light and smell exist. Most of the puppy’s time is spent sleeping (90%) and nursing (10%). Investigatory behavior is dependent on touch. Pups will vocalize in response to pain, cold and hunger. The ability to regulate their own body temperature has not fully developed so puppies will often sleep in a communal pile.
Transitional Period – 14 to 21 days: Rapid maturation of the senses and major changes in motor behavior patterns. Eyes open at 2 weeks, ears open at 3 weeks. Puppies can support themselves and begin walking unsteadily as early as 12 days. Investigatory behavior is based on sight and sound. Approach behavior develops and puppies begin to engage in playful biting and pawing. Teeth begin to emerge. Avoidance to pain response is seen at this age. Mother may regurgitate partially digested semi-solid food. EEG patterns vary little between sleeping and wake states.
Socialization Period – 3 to 12 weeks of age: The MOST influential 9 weeks of a puppy’s life. Associated with the development of many social patterns and learning about the environment. Much of what is learned during this early period is lasting, providing a foundation for many adult behavior patterns and problems. Many social and emotional deficits observed in adult dogs are believed to result from removing puppies too early from the mother and littermates.
Juvenile Period – 12 Weeks to 6 Months: A gradual improvement of motor skills occurs along with strength of activity. Learning capacities are fully developed. Juvenile puppies show an increased tendency to explore their environment. Permanent teeth are present by 6 months of age.
Adult Period – 6 Months: The development of sexual maturity marks the onset of adulthood. Dogs increase in size and strength through their second year with some variation due to breed and size. Social maturity continues on into adulthood.
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Positive Relationship or Alpha Position?
Silvia Golz, CPDT-KA
Today there is a lot of information available in print, on the internet, and on television regarding what you should or should not do when sharing your life with a canine companion. I’m not surprised that people are sometimes confused. How do you choose which advice to follow?
Due to the popularity of recent television shows, the idea of “dominance training” has increased. This approach can have damaging results sometimes leading to bites on humans and inappropriate punishment of our dogs. The time has come to stop accusing our dogs of dominance! Instead let’s become educated on species-typical behaviors and viewpoints our dogs possess and focus on how to build our relationship with them rather than break it down.
I am a professional, certified pet dog trainer and also the proud “mom” of three wonderful Siberian Huskies. My dogs and I share a loving relationship that has been built on trust, mutual respect and benevolent consistent leadership. As a certified pet dog trainer, I am dedicated to education, remain current in training advances and research results, have a proficient level of knowledge and strive to uphold a professional standard in the dog-training field.
Modern dog trainers promote the idea of dogs as active members of their families rather than subordinate beings. Training your dog should be fun for the entire family. Using modern methods to train will help build relationships in which children, as well as adults, will be respected as a leader rather than be viewed by Rover as a chew toy. A major downfall to outdated “dominance” based training methods is that they are extremely difficult for adults and more so for children to implement, which can result in miscommunications between dogs and humans.
Contrary to popular belief, dogs are not on a mission to “rule the world” and their actions are not a well thought-out plot to overthrow humankind. Our dogs live simpler mental lives than humans: they live in the present and act based on what works best for them. While dogs likely experience joy, fear and other primitive emotions, some emotions like spite, jealously and guilt are more complex and may require more mental processing than they are physically equipped to handle. Hence, dogs do not view the world the way humans do.
Building a relationship with your dog takes time and results from clear, concise information both given and received. In reality, when we train our dogs, we are teaching them English as a second language. This requires patience as they learn our language and culture. Comparatively, how do you imagine you would feel if you moved to a foreign country and were expected to live within a community that didn’t speak your language and followed different cultural rules? Probably a little confused and lost at first, right? We can, however, help speed the learning process for our dogs, if we know how they best learn and perceive the world.
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