Proper puppy socialization is important to preventing the most common dog behavior issues that lead to relinquishment. You want to start working on socializing puppies as early as possible, I recommend starting when the puppies are seven weeks of age or younger. Another thing to keep in mind, mom’s temperament, health and maternal experiences are often a reflection of what her pups health and personality will be like.
So, what can you do to minimize behavior problems in puppies and enhance the bond between the puppy and the new owner? Here are some tips:
Fear and Aggression in Puppies
Aggression and fear in puppies may have a genetic as well as a socialization component. Carefully select the genetics of your breeding males and females. Start your puppies right with Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS). ENS has been used for decades to benefit puppy development. Encourage new owners to continue socialization after the puppy enters their new home to help lessen the number of behavioral problems.
Puppy Obedience and Communication
Puppy obedience and communication also have genetic and environmental components. Select male and female dogs who are sweet-natured and ready to follow directions and are easily trained. Encourage your buyers to attend family pet dog obedience classes, work with their children and other family members, and continue basic obedience commands at home. This includes sit, stay, come when called, and “emergency downs” as well as heeling on a leash and how to behave at the veterinary clinic.
Separation Anxiety in Puppies
Separation anxiety in puppies can also be both genetic and environmental. Teach the puppies and new owners how to leave the home and return home without drama. This includes teaching them how to entertain themselves when home alone. Include stuffed toys and other dog “puzzles” like a metal muffin tin filled with frozen yogurt or a cookie frozen to the inside of the tin with peanut butter.
Destructive Puppy Behavior
Before the puppies leave for their new homes, start them off sleeping in individual crates at night. It only takes a few short nights alone for them to adjust. When dogs are accustomed to crates, the new owners are more willing to use a crate during times they cannot supervise the puppy. When puppies are happy in their crates, with something to be entertained with, they are more likely to sleep quietly in crates at night and when home alone. This reduces the likelihood they will chew up the kitchen cabinets, woodwork or furniture, urinate and defecate inappropriately, and try to escape from the home or kennel.
Match the Breed to the New Family
Make sure the new family knows what to expect for the breed. Let the families know what they should expect regarding indoor and outdoor activity, shedding, grooming, protectiveness, size, coat type, social skills, and health issues. Remember, not everyone is cut out for a puppy of every breed.
For more advice on how to socialize puppies and reduce the risk of behavioral problems, call a Revival Pet Care Pro at 800.786.4751.
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Written by: Marty Greer, DVM
Director of Veterinary Services
Marty Greer, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, has 40+ years’ experience in veterinary medicine, with special interests in canine reproduction and pediatrics. She received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Iowa State University in 1981. She’s served as Revival’s Director of Veterinary Services since 2019. In 2023, Dr. Greer was named the Westminster Kennel Club Veterinarian of the Year.