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Judy 01-24-2008 12:49 AM

New puppy owners
Ian Dunbar - permission to cross post

Ian Dunbar PhD, MRCVS

At eight weeks of age, many puppies already have incipient or existing behavior and temperament problems. Most puppies are severely under-socialized, even though the Critical Period of Socialization is already nearly two thirds over. Few puppies are housetrained or chewtoy-trained and hardly any have been taught to come, sit and lie down. By the time they enter puppy class at 12-18 weeks of age, most puppies have already developed significant behavior and temperament problems that are already beginning to strain the puppy/owner relationship. Pro blems increase and rapidly worsen as the puppy collides with adolescence, whereupon many dogs are surrendered to shelters for rehoming.

The Problems
The developmental course of behavior, temperament and training problems is all too common and usually starts with two simple problems — housesoiling and destructive chewing —two utterly predictable and easily preventable problems.

Puppies leave their original (breeder's) homes at eight weeks of age — when the Critical Period of Socialization is nearly two thirds completed. Certainly, many breeders do a brilliant job socializing, handling and training the young pups. However, some do not. Indeed, far too many eight-week-old puppies are un-socialized, un-housetrained, un-chewtoy-trained and haven't even been taught to sit or lie down. For many of these puppies, their future already looks bleak.

If not immediately trained in their new homes, the puppies will eliminate anywhere and everywhere and chew anything and everything (as they have become accustomed to doing in their previous home). Un-housetrained and destructive puppies are often relegated to the backyard by the time they are four to five months old. The puppies continue to eliminate and chew indiscriminately, and soon learn to learn to dig, bark and escape in their quest for some form of occupational therapy to pass the time of day when left in the yard alone. The lonely puppies become stressed and bored. When occasionally invited indoors, they are overcome with excitement and express their joy by enthusiastically circling, barking and jumping-up and so, they are invited indoors less frequently. When neighbors complain of the excessive barking, the dog, now a six-month-old adolescent, is further confined to the basement or garage. With nothing to do in solitary confinement, the dog destroys the basement. Living in social isolation, the dog begins to de-socialize and is now less inclined to want to greet his owners during their brief and increasingly infrequent visits. The dog becomes wary and harder to catch and may become agitated and snap and lunge if approached. By eight-months of age, the dog is abandoned or surrendered to a shelter to be re-homed.

Rehoming unwanted adult dogs is an extremely expensive, time consuming and labor intensive business. Also, rehoming is not always easy or successful. Many shelter dogs carry significant behavioral baggage from the lack of training in their previous home(s). Whereas most behavior problems may be resolved fairly quickly and easily with appropriate shelter training, dogs with temperament problems, such as anxiety, aggression, and universal fearfulness, often take months, or years, to rehabilitate.

For many unwanted shelter dogs, rehoming is simply not an option.

The Solution
The time to rescue unwanted adult dogs is during puppyhood. All unwanted shelter dogs were once perfectly normal puppies. Friendly and mannerly (socialized and well-trained) puppies stay in their original homes and don't require rehoming.

When choosing a puppy at eight weeks of age: owners must realize that all puppies are different. They may carefully choose one that is well-socialized and well trained, or they might select a "lemon" — a puppy that is already so developmentally retarded that they will be playing catch up for the rest of the dog's life.

At eight weeks of age, all puppies should be: well-socialized, especially to children, men and strangers; eager to approach; easily handled; housetrained and chewtoy-trained; and at the very least trained to come, sit, lie down, stand and rollover.

Having chosen a puppy at eight weeks of age: owners must appreciate the enormous urgency for the puppy's socialization and training over the next few weeks and months. There is so much to do and so little time to do it. The most pressing items on the puppy's educational agenda are: Socialization, socialization and socialization — especially with children, men and strangers; and errorless housetraining and chewtoy -training to prevent excessive barking and separation anxiety.

Regardless of breed or breeding, owners will make or break their puppy during his first couple of weeks and months at home. With timely and appropriate education and training, the puppy will survive, and thrive, to thoroughly enjoy spending his sunset years with his wonderful owners.

Obviously, some puppy owners will require much more guidance than that offered on dogSTARdaily. com, but at least access to dogSTARdaily will keep the puppy on the right track until the owners come under the expert tutelage of a trainer in puppy class.

Early socialization and education will not save every puppy but it will save most, keeping them in their original homes. And certainly, preventing problems during puppyhood is considerably easier and quicker and a whole lot more fun than the prospect of trying to rehabilitate and rehome an unwanted two-year-old dog that is universally fearful and snaps at strangers.

Please forward this email to every prospective and new puppy owner that you know.
Thank you.

Ian Dunbar

ericschevy 01-24-2008 12:59 AM

:goodpost: :cheers: :D

MY MIKADO 01-24-2008 03:30 AM

Excellent posting Judy!!!!!!!

Indigo Bully Connection 01-24-2008 09:58 PM

love it!!!!!!!!

Patron 09-11-2008 02:49 AM

THank you very mucho!

Cain714 11-09-2008 03:44 PM

Thank you Judy, very well explained. This helped alot.

Jr. 11-09-2008 03:50 PM

at 8 weeks... and at the very least trained to come, sit, lie down, stand and rollover.??

oh man... my dog is well mannered and socialized but only knows to "come" so far. But I actually haven't really gotten into teaching him sit, lie down or roll over yet. I better get on the ball.

LiiL_L0cz_Red_N0se 11-09-2008 09:51 PM

kenya was a fast learner!when she came home she learned the basics in two weeks. we are now gettin her out and socialized but are having a little bit of trouble getttin her attention when she is playing with other dogs... but she was well mannered and new her stuff by 8 weeks :)

hagerbm 12-17-2008 04:20 PM

Biting puppy
I'm a new dog owner, and I'm trying to learn as much as possible on my dog (Tyson), in order for him to be happy and healthy. He's very energetic, as most puppies are, and I try to get him to run around and play as much as I can (which means when I get home after work).
He does however have some biting issues, he will "remember" not to do it while I'm with him and when I say NO loudly a couple of times, but when he's totally excited, he just will bite and will even bite the air when he cannot grab on to something.
He is 10 weeks old now, and I'm looking for real advice on what I can do with/for him. Also, I'd like to know the best techniques to get him to understand the sit/stay commands. So far, he only comes :)
Many thanks in advance,

81yota 01-21-2009 05:18 AM

Thats a really good posting, I noticed there where a few times that you mentioned at 8 weeks. Well I got my first Pitt Puppy today as a late christmas present, I know the pup came from a breeder as I have the pappers from the breeder but my pup is not house-trained or any of the above mentioned and he is 10 weeks old. I'm hoping that he still ahs a chance to be to dog that I want him to be what do you think. Also I do need some advice on hourbreaking him as this is my first inside dog.\, I have been online r eading alot of different things but I'm not sure exactly what is the best as there are no success stories to follow the posting. Thankyou

81yota 01-22-2009 03:36 AM

Thanks to the information that you and so many others have posted, I have been able to get jackson outside in time to use the bathroom. So thankyou, but my and him are still having a little bit of a learning problem trying to get him to learn his name. I've done the treat method and it works about ahlf the time and the other half well he jsut looks at me like wtf, any ideas?

KB24MVP 03-02-2009 07:10 PM

my pup is so dumb it should be illeagal. idk what to do

FloorCandy 03-02-2009 08:08 PM


Originally Posted by KB24MVP (Post 118492)
my pup is so dumb it should be illeagal. idk what to do

Dumb or misbehaving? If you haven't taught it something you can't expect it to know, plus the more you train it, the easier it is for the dog to learn. So that first command might be the most difficult, but after that it gets much easier.

If you are having trouble, I would strongly suggest hiring a trainer to help you.

SutterCane 03-03-2009 04:19 AM


Originally Posted by KB24MVP (Post 118492)
my pup is so dumb it should be illeagal. idk what to do

Just remember that his/her attention span is like zero right now. If it's really young, I think thats a big factor too.

Julie K 03-03-2009 05:55 AM

Very young puppies can be taught in short, dynamic sessions:

to learn to enjoy learning and interacting with you

a communication and support system,
including tactile, visual, scent, and verbal information

targeting skills

beginning vocabulary through
body part recognition
and naming objects, people, and anything of interest in their environment

conditioned relaxation

pretty much anything an adult dog can learn scaled down to puppy size

Julie K

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