Tag Archives: socialization

Your Puppy’s Development: 6 Weeks


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Your puppy is now six weeks old and one step closer to becoming independent! He is likely weaned, or very close to being weaned from his mother. Just as humans learn appropriate behaviors from their family and peers at a young age, puppies also must learn social cues during this period of development in order to integrate smoothly into the world. At this age he may even be learning to use the doggy-door! But there’s more for your pup to learn in the sixth week of his life.

Health
Puppies begin getting first their vaccines between six and eight weeks old. This gives them a great start in life and ensures immunity to many common puppyhood illnesses, like distemper, parvo, and Bordetella. PuppySpot requires all breeders to perform a comprehensive health evaluation for every puppy and keep their puppies up-to-date on all vaccinations and de-wormings.

A Growing Appetite
At six weeks, many puppies can start to eat dry kibble and their feeding can be reduced to three times a day, now that they are old enough to go longer between meals. Puppies can start by eating kibble soaked in warm water for one meal a day and drinking their mother’s milk for the other two meals. The amount of food the puppy eats will gradually increase as he gets more comfortable eating solid food from a bowl.

Socialization
Puppies at this age regularly interact with others, including their mom, littermates and breeder. A puppy greets his littermates with sniffing to the nose and tail. He also learns a lot from his mom—the best example of mature doggy behavior around. A puppy takes after his mom’s example, but he may still be quite rambunctious while he is learning.

A Typical Day
A puppy at six weeks will be curious about his surroundings, as well as those who inhabit it. He’ll sniff his littermates’ noses and tails the same way adult dogs sniff each other when they first meet. Humans may view sniffing each other’s rear ends as an odd way to say hello, but it’s just how dogs get to know each other. The stronger the scent, the more information is available for a pup’s nose to pick up!

Your six-week-old puppy is no longer glued to his mother, and is starting to spend more time interacting with his littermates. He likes to use his newfound mobility to learn from and form relationships with his family. But he’s still got a long way to go before adulthood!

Your Puppy’s Development: 5 Weeks


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Week five is when a puppy is exposed to new faces other than his mom and littermates. At this age, your puppy appears more playful and curious by the day. She is exploring the world around her and learning how to interact with others. Socialization is all about learning how to interact with other dogs and humans and your puppy is just beginning this process. Since her eyesight is now well-developed, she is fully aware of her surroundings and eager to take her place in the big, busy world.

Socialization

At five weeks old, a puppy begins to form relationships with people and other dogs. Her first interactions will be with her mother, but now that her eyesight is fully developed, the puppy will start getting to know her siblings, caretaker and other humans. She now interacts with people every day, getting to know their touch and scent. She also learns to identify and interact with her littermates. These early lessons on how to be a dog will be useful for years to come.

Playtime

A puppy five weeks of age enjoys playtime with her littermates, mother and human caretakers. This is also when, as fidosavvy.com describes, your puppy learns the important lesson of “bite inhibition” and the difference between fighting and play biting. This lesson teaches a puppy the appropriate limits of play in her future interactions with others.

A Typical Day
Your puppy already looks more active—rather than sleeping all day, her open eyes give her more reasons to stay awake and explore. She enjoys activities like playing with humans and her littermates, and is learning more about the world every day.

A puppy at five weeks old takes in a lot of new information, while also enjoying herself as she gets to know the pups and people in her life. Socialization holds special importance during this period, and a breeder might accomplish this by encouraging her to spend more time with her littermates instead of predominantly with her mother. Giving the pup some alone time also helps prepare her for her eventual journey to meet her new family!

Your Puppy’s Development: 4 Weeks


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During the first four weeks of a puppy’s life, integral development begins that will set the stage for the rest of his life. While still very young, the puppy takes his first step towards independence: weaning. It is during this period of time that your puppy starts to gain independence from his mother. The puppy no longer relies on his mother as his sole distributor of nutrition. This is where human intervention enters the equation to make sure the puppy grows and receives the best care possible. Your experienced breeder takes on a very important role full of responsibility at this stage.

Because puppies are in the care of their breeders until at least eight weeks old, we’ve put together a snapshot of developmental milestones your puppy experiences, starting at four weeks old.

Physical Changes
At four weeks, your puppy undergoes a major increase in growth. A puppy’s eyes open between two and four weeks old. Like human babies, puppies are born with bluish-gray eyes, but by this stage, their eyes settle into their adult eye color. Your puppy now has a full set of puppy teeth and can begin weaning. He starts to eat soft foods, and according to fidosavvy.com, some mother dogs will even regurgitate their food to give their puppies a soft form of nutrition. When not sleeping, your puppy spends most of his time eating and still needs food at least four times a day.

Socialization
While your puppy’s motor skills are still limited at four weeks old, he shows the beginnings of playful behavior through his various human and canine interactions. Every breeder has certain practices for further preparing your puppy for socialization as an adult. A common practice among breeders is a method called “tolerance training,” which is a way of handling the puppy to make him more tolerant of future handling from new people. This training can be especially helpful to prime for your puppy for contact with young children who do not know their limits when it comes to handling living creatures. This training can include gently tugging on puppies’ tails, lightly squeezing their paws, turning the puppies over and rubbing their bellies.

A Typical Day
A four-week-old puppy spends most of his time sleeping and eating, but the rest of the time is spent exploring! He can stand up, walk around, wag his tail and test out little puppy barks. He interacts with his littermates and learns about his place in the world as a pup.

Between two and four weeks of age the puppy begins to gain independence from his mother, heightened senses and greater knowledge about his surroundings. The socialization that takes place naturally between him and his littermates and his increased ability to observe his surroundings will give him a good foundation for a healthy and happy future.

A Stress-Free Guide to Pup Playdates


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As a pup-parent, you’ve likely met other dog owners and have bonded over a shared love of your four-legged friends. Eventually, the idea for a playdate between your two dogs is likely to come up. The idea seems like a fun one at first, until you remember a few instances of your pup’s bad behavior. Even if your dog is generally well-mannered, you never know how he might act around a stranger, whether human or fur ball. Pup playdates are a good chance to socialize your dog to new experiences and individuals, but there is a right and wrong way to go about them. Avoid a meeting mishap between your dog and his pup-pal by reading this to-do list and ensuring your playdate is a success!

1. Pick a Playmate
Not every dog will be the right friend for your dog. Factors like age, size, sex and energy level should be taken into account to give this playdate the best chance at success. For example, it’s best to pair up dogs of opposite sexes, as dogs of the same sex may see each other as threatening and are more likely to get into fights. This is not to say that two female dogs or two male dogs can never get along, but it is not as encouraged as having a male and female dog play together for the first time. A playmate close in age to your pup is also ideal, as the energy levels of the pups will be more likely to match up, whereas a young, lively puppy might get on the nerves of an older, more tranquil dog. Likewise, it’s best not to have dogs of differing sizes playing together, as one may end up overpowering the other or injuring the other without intention. Finally, make sure your pup is up to date with his vaccinations, and aim to surround him with other vaccinated pups to reduce the chance of spreading illness.

2. Choose a Neutral, Secure Environment
Where the playdate takes place matters just as much as who your pup is spending it with. Like your pup’s playmate, the setting must also be a good match; not too cramped, but also not too spacious. Avoid having the first encounter at your or the other owner’s house, as the dog living there may feel like his territory is being infringed upon when an unfamiliar dog enters it.

3. Take it Slow
For your dog’s first introduction to his new playmate, you will want to maintain a cool, calm demeanor. Since our dogs can pick up on human feelings of stress, going into the meeting with bad feelings can set your dog up for a failed experience. Keep a lax grip on your dog’s leash and encourage him with a praising tone of voice. Most importantly, don’t force the interaction. Despite trying your best to pair your pup with what appears to be the right playmate for him, it still might not be a perfect match. Take it slow by allowing your dog sniff out his playmate and encourage the other owner to do the same. Pay attention to body language to see how both dogs feel about the experience. Tongue-out smiles and wagging tails are signs of a good time, while a stiff body, exposed teeth and growling might be signs to separate the two pooches. But if both pups look relaxed and eager to play with each other, then allow them to play off-leash under your supervision.

4. Break Time
Even if all is going well, your pup and his playmate are bound to get tired sooner or later, so interrupt the play about every five minutes to split up the dogs, allowing them both some time to take a breather. After refueling them with water and treats, you can send them on their way again while keeping a watchful eye.

5. In the Case of a Fight
You’ll know if the encounter turns into a fight if you hear a lot of angry noise or see the dogs tangled up or displaying signs of aggression. Although most dog fights are minor, a risky situation that involves two irritated dogs should be halted immediately to avoid injury or worse. To safely end the fight and avoid getting hurt yourself, spray the dogs with water from a hose or spray bottle to distract them away from the tussle. Alternatively, you can make a loud noise to startle the dogs into silence. Always keep your hands away from either dog’s face. Once the dogs are separated, document any injuries and keep both pups secured on leashes, where they can no longer interact. If you wish, you can give the playdate one last shot on another occasion, but depending on the severity of the fight, you may have to accept the fact that not all of “man’s best friends” are meant to be “best friends.”

Dog playdates can be a fun socialization activity as well as provide a healthy means of exercise. As long as the encounter is kept safe, a pup playdate should be a positive experience for all involved.

Puppy Kindergarten: Wag or Woof?


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Training a puppy is a challenging and time-consuming undertaking; but thankfully, there are a multitude of resources and methods to help accomplish this often daunting task. Through initial research or word-of-mouth, you’ve likely heard the term “puppy kindergarten” (or “preschool”), which is used largely to describe a series of obedience classes that the puppy parent completes with their puppy. These classes are predominantly designed to teach basic commands, and socialize your puppy with other dogs.

Before investing both your dollars and your time in a group class however, it’s important to set expectations and make sure it’s the right training environment for you and your pooch. Preparation is key to getting the most out of puppy kindergarten, so here are a list of pros and cons to help you decide whether you’re ready to enroll and if/once you do, ensure success!

Pros

Socialization – There is one basic facet of development that you as the puppy parent cannot teach: healthy play with other dogs. Learning how to interact with other canines is crucial for your puppy– how else will you be able to confidently and safely walk your puppy outside, take him/her to a dog park or even board him/her in a group setting?

Distractions – At the moments when it’s most important for your puppy to listen to you, he/she will most certainly be distracted. Whether running away from you at the dog park, begging for a fellow diner’s food while accompanying you at an outdoor restaurant or jumping on a stranger, you will undoubtedly experience situations outside of your own home where you don’t have your puppy’s full, undivided attention. A class environment will teach him/her to listen to you amidst interruptions, if not chaos.

Cons

Learning Retention – Contrary to popular belief, your puppy will not retain the information taught in class and implement it without further reinforcement and personal one-on-one training. In simple terms, do not expect your puppy to actually learn anything during class time. Puppy classes are designed to teach the parents the basics, and then the work is on you to practice, practice, and then practice some more at home.

Generic and Unspecialized – Puppy classes typically focus on basic obedience training. Think commands such as sit, come, and stay. Essential exercises such as potty-training or crate-training, nipping or chewing may not be covered. Plus, dogs with specialized issues such as separation anxiety or intense aggression are better suited for private one-on-one training which will focus on techniques tailored to solving those problems. Before enrolling, make sure you have an understanding of the topics that will be addressed during your sessions and what you’ll be responsible for handling on your own.

Costly – While high-quality obedience training can be invaluable (when implemented correctly), all too often, puppy parents become easily frustrated upon not seeing fast results. In many cases, they give up and do not follow through with the teachings they learn in class making the classes “worthless” and/or a superfluous luxury.

Bottom line: puppy kindergarten may reward your pooch with a diploma upon graduation, but only expect your puppy to get straight A’s if you’re willing to put in the time and effort to continuing and reinforcing these teachings at home.

How to Find a Responsible Breeder


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Congratulations! You’ve made the big, meaningful decision to get a dog. You’re ready to experience all the love a puppy brings to a home and with your mind now made up, the excitement is building and you’re anxious to find “The One.”

Having placed tens of thousands of dogs into loving homes, we are proud of both our expertise in selecting the top breeders in the country (we accept less than 10% of applicants into our network) and our commitment to matching well-qualified puppy parents to be with the right dogs for them and their families.

Over the years, we’ve talked to countless dog owners, breeders and puppy parents-to-be, and our goal has always been to help make the process of finding a dog easy and safe, while making the transition for the puppies and new owners as seamless as possible. Through our experience, we’ve learned the keys to responsibly finding a dog and want to share them with you.

buy-responsibly-thumbnailTo empower you and start you off on the right foot as a puppy parent-to-be, we’ve broken down the top 10 questions to ask your puppy source. By doing your due diligence with the necessary research, you’ll be able to make an informed, educated choice, thereby ensuring your puppy’s optimal well-being, health and happiness.

1. Where did the puppy come from?
It’s crucial to fully know and understand your puppy’s history – birth place, parents, lineage, characteristics, any known health issues, current state of care, any former owners, etc.

2. If selecting from a breeder, is the breeder USDA licensed or legally exempt from licensing?
Fortunately, the breeding industry is regulated by the Federal government, and licensed breeders are required to follow strict standards on cleanliness, protocol and humane treatment of all animals on the premises.

3. Does a veterinarian examine the puppies before they’re released to the puppy owner?
Because your puppy’s health is of utmost importance, it’s imperative to make sure a licensed veterinarian has done a nose-to-tail examination of the puppy and has written up a comprehensive report so you’re aware of and adequately prepared for any issues before choosing your puppy.

4. Is the puppy up-to-date on all vaccinations?
Make sure to obtain records of vaccinations to ensure the puppy is current on all the necessary immunizations for his/her age. Vaccines are essential to protect against potentially life-threatening illnesses.

5. Has the puppy been socialized with other puppies, dogs and people?
You’ll want to make sure the puppy has had regular interaction with not just other puppies in its litter, but also other adult dogs and of course, people. You’ll want to have a full assessment of any socialization or behavioral issues before deciding whether the dog is right for you and/or your family.

6. Do you offer a guarantee on the dog’s health?
Unfortunately, even the most well taken care of dogs can sometimes get sick. Because life happens, it’s important to be realistic and ask if your puppy source offers any sort of health guarantee or reimbursement, should you discover your puppy has a genetic or hereditary illness or contracts a disease within a certain period of time.

7. Can I see photos and video of the puppies and/or litters available?
A reputable breeder will not only answer any and all questions you may have, but will also happily send photos and/or videos of the puppies you’re interested in so you can not only see what they look like, but also observe their behavior and temperament. Because geographical limitations often prevent the ability to visit a facility in person, photos and videos are great ways to learn more about the puppies, parents and breeder.

8. What paperwork has already been filed, and what documentation will I receive with the puppy?
Find out if the puppy has already been registered and has the required certification. Some breeders will handle, while others require theprospective puppy owner to complete the process. You’ll want to be aware of what paperwork (if any) lies within your responsibility. In addition, many breeders will offer proof of genetic testing for the sire and dam (parents) of the puppy.

9. What is the breeder’s experience and background?
It is your right to learn about the breeder you’re choosing from – not just how they run their operation, but also their expertise and history with dog breeding. Besides amount of years breeding, you may want to ask if the breeder belongs to any breed organizations or clubs, what criteria they require of their stock, and simply, why they breed dogs. The love and passion for what they do will come through in their responses. You should also ask who you should reach out to with any issues after the sale. A good breeder will check in periodically after puppy arrives home.

10. Is there a contract? If so, what are the terms and guarantees?
Similar to the health guarantee mentioned above, understand the inclusions and limitations of your agreement, which can include anything and everything from spaying and neutering to re-homing provisions.

Introducing Puppy to Your Older Dog: The Secret to Successful Socialization


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Having a canine companion is one of the greatest blessings of friendship outside the human circle. While pooches grow even more lovable each day, there may come a time when a pup parent entertains the idea of doubling the fun and bonding by adding another dog to the household. If you were or are one of those people, you’ll understand how wonderful it can be to have two furry friends roaming the house.

Yet, it can take some time for that bond to form – just as an older child may experience adjustment issues when a sibling arrives, the same goes for pups. Dogs are inherently pack animals and thus territorial issues are not only normal, but to be expected. And since your older dog is likely to be larger than your puppy, the attempt to assert physical dominance is likely.

But don’t fret – with hard work, patience and understanding, establishing a healthy rapport between your two pooches is possible. And once they get used to each other, get the camera ready because there will be so many opportunities to capture adorable moments of the two playing, sleeping or eating together. Follow these tips to successfully socialize a new puppy with an older dog.

Let Your Older Dog Lead
introducing-older-thumbnailSince your older dog has been with you for quite some time, you will be in a good position to gauge if she has aggression issues that could make a two-dog household more trouble than harmonious. Assess how your dog behaves towards other dogs and animals in your area. Has your older dog gotten into brawls with other dogs? Another factor to consider is that puppies are extremely high energy and their desire to play may come as a bother to your older dog who has more of a mellow demeanor. An annoyed older dog may either walk away (best case scenario) or throw her weight around and retaliate by snapping or growling.

Remember The Pack Animal Mentality
Your older dog may be the tamest and most obedient canine you have encountered, but a pack animal will always want the group to know she’s boss. Therefore, when you first introduce your dogs, make sure they’re both held firmly on leashes by two different individuals and separated by sufficient space. Do not let the two dogs interact unsupervised until they’ve had adequate time to get to know each other and are comfortable with each other’s presence.

Crate or Confine Puppy to Designated Space
Since your older dog has rightfully established her territory long before your new puppy’s arrival, a key factor for their peaceful co-existence is to either crate train or confine your puppy to a gated-off area for the first few months. This will not only serve to prevent messes and destruction, but also teach your puppy to respect your older dog’s personal domain. By allocating different areas of your home to both dogs, they will grow accustomed to a safe and comfortable roommate situation, and eventually a loving canine relationship.

Leverage The Canine Sense of Smell
While you likely already know that a dog’s sense of smell is highly sensitive, you may not know there’s a unique way to use that adorable snout to your advantage when it comes to assimilating a new dog into a dominant dog residence. Before the dogs meet face-to-face, give your new puppy a blanket or toy to sleep with, ideally for a couple of nights, so the blanket or toy is saturated in his smell. Then give that blanket or toy to your adult dog to get her acquainted and familiar with the new puppy smell. This simple technique will facilitate easier bonding and friendship.

Rest assured, once your two pups are socialized, you’re in for a special treat. Your furry children will eventually love having each other’s company when home alone, playing together outside or snuggling up together for comfort.