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Your Puppy Is Home... Now What???

Socialization is much more than knowing the dogs and humans your puppy lives with or next to.

Socialization is gently introducing him to the world around him—his world—using positive associations (treats) every time something new is introduced and re-introduced.  Every time they see it, they get something really yummy.  This helps them learn that new things bring good things (food or play).  Always make sure your puppy is having a good time seeing and learning about new things.  If your puppy is scared of anything, do NOT force it upon them.  That will not help your puppy get used to the scary thing.  Let your puppy stay as far away from the scary thing as they want/need to.  If your puppy is fearful, stop what your doing and call a positive trainer to help you.

By the time Tilly, our boxer, was 11 weeks old, she had been to a local park where she saw a stream and walked across a metal bridge, saw people playing tennis and kids swinging, Rockville Town Center where she saw a bunch of people doing yoga, our veterinarians office every week for treats and weigh-ins; my chiropractors office, and a walk to a not too busy street to sit and watch the cars go by.  She even saw some live music over the fourth of July weekend.  She's seen the sprinkler and the weed whacker, and played in a tunnel.  There was still so much of her new world that I hadn't introduced her to yet.  Everything new she experienced was done with care to help ensure that each experience is a positive one.

Don't keep your puppy in a bubble!  Socialize!

This Position Statement by the American Veterinarian Society of Animal Behavior discusses the importance of socialization. Stating the "primary and most important time for puppy socialization is the first three months of life."

So, what IS socialization?  Let's start with what socialization isn't.  Socialization is not having your puppy meet every dog or person he sees. That can actually be a bad thing to do since not all dogs or people want to meet your puppy. 


What's for dinner?

A lot of breeders, and even some veterinarians, will recommend (or insist) that you only feed your puppy XYZ brand puppy food.  Sometimes they say No People Food!  What do they think food is? Do your homework on foods to feed.  Personally I'm not a kibble fan.  Constant dry food puts too much strain on the body to break down.   But then again, I feed my dogs a raw diet and some vets don't agree with that. There's a lot to be said about fresh food and species appropriate diets.  Just because the highly processed food is available and has the added nutrients, doesn't mean it's best or healthy for our dogs.  Cereal claims the same thing.  We don't live off of cereal every day.  We eat a fresh and varied diet as all living things should.  Just like with humans, a poor diet can affect our dogs behavior. Dogs Naturally magazine and The Whole Dog Journal are good sources of information for feeding.

Please, do your research and feed the best food you can that will help your dog thrive, not just survive. A good healthy diet now can save in vet bills later. Ok, I'll get off my soapbox now.

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