In the Works: Puppy training Print E-mail
Thursday, 09 March 2017
By Capt. Chris Magee
Special to GUIDON

So, you have just added a puppy to your Family. What an exciting time!  

Aside from all the fun that comes along with your new friend, you also have a lot on your mind on how to take care of this little guy. Most new puppy owners are aware of the required check-ups, vaccinations, and dewormings, but what about training?  

Of course, potty training is a necessity, and most puppies pick that up rather quickly. When should you start obedience training and socialization?

Obedience training and socialization is undoubtedly important to help build a healthy relationship between you and your pet and strengthen the human-animal bond. As with any training, this will require commitment and patience, but the benefits will last a lifetime.  

There are countless dogs that are surrendered (and many times ultimately euthanized) due to behavior issues. How much of this can be prevented?  

Experts agree that a well-run puppy training class can prevent many behavior issues that unfortunately cost many dogs their lives. We often focus on the prevention of disease to preserve life, but perhaps we should also be focusing on the prevention of behavior issues through high-quality training.  

Some dogs are completely panicked by loud noises or new people/animals. Some dogs have issues with resource/food guarding that can lead to dangerous aggression problems. What if those dogs had gone through a training program early in their development? While there are no guarantees that a graduate of puppy training will not have behavior problems down the road, puppy training provides the foundation for how your dog will perceive and respond to various situations and scenarios throughout his life.  

How early should you start?  

The critical socialization window for puppies is six to 12 weeks. Your puppy is learning so much and building its foundation during this time. We have to make sure we are providing the right tools. This does not mean that you should just take your puppy anywhere during this time—this is also a period when puppies are susceptible to various diseases.  

Please ensure you are following your veterinarian’s recommended vaccination schedule, and avoid crowded, unregulated dog parks where your puppy may encounter a sick animal. Reputable puppy classes take these risks into account. Missing out on these classes during this time frame may lead to a lifetime of behavior problems.  

Some puppies are more naturally well-mannered than others. This can lead some owners into a false sense of security that puppy classes would not be necessary for them.

 A recent study showed that only 20 percent of all puppies are taken to puppy training classes. With all the behavior problems seen at the veterinary clinics every week, it is easy to believe that statistic.  

So, even if your puppy seems to be the best mannered dog on the block, do not underestimate the importance of a high-quality  training class.  Do not miss that critical window.  Help your puppy  to grow into the best-behaved dog possible. Get him in a puppy class now.

(Editor’s note: Magee is a veterinarian at the Fort Leonard Wood Veterinary Treatment Facility)
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 22 March 2017 )