Getting to know everyone Weeks

Your dog is a social animal. To become an acceptable pet, the pup needs to interact with you and your family, as well as with other humans and dogs during the 7th through 12th week of life. If denied these opportunities, your dog's behavior around other people or dogs may be unpredictable — your dog may be fearful or perhaps even aggressive. For example, unless regularly exposed to children during this period, a dog may be uncomfortable or untrustworthy around them.

Socializing your puppy is critical for it to become a friendly adult dog. When your puppy is developing, expose it to as many different people as possible, including children and older people. Let him meet new dogs, too. These early experiences will pay off big time when your dog grows up.

Your puppy needs the chance to meet and have positive experiences with those persons and activities that will play a role in his life. The following are just a few examples:

i You're a grandparent whose grandchildren occasionally visit. Have your puppy meet children as often as you can.

i You live by yourself but have friends that visit you. Make an effort to let your puppy meet other people, particularly members of the opposite sex.

i You plan to take your dog on family outings or vacations. Introduce riding in a car.

We've been fortunate in that we've been able to take our puppies to our training camps. The wealth of experience they gained from the weeklong exposure to other dogs and people has made it easy for us to take our dogs anywhere. As a result, they get along with people and dogs — and are ambassadors for all dogs.

A common way for people to greet a puppy or an adult dog is to pat it on top of the head, just as they do with children. The fact is that dogs don't like this form of greeting any better than kids do. The pup will immediately scrunch down and look miserable, especially if you lean over him as well. Instead, greet your puppy by putting the palm of your hand under his chin. Stand up straight, or kneel down and greet him with a smile and a hello. When meeting a puppy or dog for the first time, slowly put the palm of your hand toward him and let him smell you.

Socialization with other dogs is equally important and should be the norm rather than the exception. It also needs to occur on a regular basis. Ideally, the puppy has a mentor, an older dog who can teach it the ropes. We've been fortunate enough in always having had a mentor dog who supervised the upbringing of a new puppy, making our task that much easier.

Puppies learn from other dogs but can only do so if they have a chance to spend time with them. Make a point of introducing your young dog to other puppies and adults on a regular basis. Many communities now have dog parks where dogs can interact and play together. If you plan on taking your puppy to obedience class or dog shows or ultimately using the dog in a breeding program, he needs to have the chance to interact with other dogs. Time spent now is well worth the effort — it will build his confidence and make your job training him that much easier.

Remember that you see Buddy as a four-legged person. Buddy sees you as a two-legged dog. You can change your perception, but Buddy can't. During this time is also when your puppy will follow your every footstep. Encourage this behavior by rewarding the puppy with an occasional treat, some petting, or a kind word.

Dog Care Duty

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