Puppy class is just the beginning!
You wouldn’t send your child to kindergarten and upon graduation pull them out of school forever. It is the same with a puppy. In order to raise a friendly, confident dog, you need to continue their learning and socialization.
Taking your puppy to puppy kindergarten is one of the best things you could ever do for them. Puppies learn bite inhibition, basic life skills and become confident and socialized in puppy classes. The goal at puppyhood is to produce a friendly confident dog that can face the adolescence stage.
It is much easier on you and your dog to approach doggie adolescence when your dog is already socialized and trained. It is important to continue your dog’s socialization and training during their adolescence. Behaviour is always changing in puppies and adolescence. Sometimes it is for the better and sometimes for the worse. Their behaviour will improve if you continue to expose them to dogs, people, places, things and sounds. But their behaviour could get worse if you don’t. Both behaviour and temperament will tend to stabilize for better or worse as your dog matures around its second or third year. But until then if you don’t keep on top of their training and socialization there can be negative changes in your dog’s temperament and behaviour. Your dog’s adolescence is a critical time. It is when everything starts to fall apart unless you continue to socialize and train. If you ignore your dog’s education needs during adolescence you may find yourself living with an ill mannered under socialized, fearful adult dog.
Socialization often heads downhill during adolescence. As dogs get older they have fewer opportunities to meet unfamiliar people and dogs. By the time they are five or six months old, if they no longer attend training classes and just see the same family and friends and are walked on the same streets where they encounter the same familiar people and dogs, they become progressively desocialized towards unfamiliar people and dogs until eventually they become intolerant of all but a small inner circle of friends. If your adolescent dog does not get out and about on a regular basis they may become desocialized quite quickly. At five months your dog was a very social friendly happy confident dog but by eight months they have become defensive, developed fear issues and are lacking in confidence. They bark, they snap and lunge, they may back off, growl, now you have a lot of very hard work ahead of you. You will spend the rest of your dog’s entire life playing catch up with behaviour modification programs.
So remember, puppy socialization was just a start. Your adolescent dog must continue meeting unfamiliar people and other dogs and go to unfamiliar places on a regular basis. They must go out and about, otherwise they will progressively desocialize.
When you have a socialized adolescent you can then look forward to safely continuing your adult dog’s socialization while enjoying a strong bond between you and your dog.
Remember, socializing your dog is for life.
Some of the best ways to socialize your dog include:
• Walking in new places
• Obedience training classes
• Fun classes like Freestyle, Rally O, Tricks
• Playing with other dogs at doggie daycare
• Visiting friends and family
• Car rides
• Going shopping at pet friendly stores