We recently read an article about a 3 month old puppy who suddenly became ‘naughty’, and it was a real eye opener. From Dog Gone Problems:
I have a puppy who is a little over 3 months old. Until a few weeks ago, she was an absolute angel. She was very interested in meeting new people, she seemed to want to please us and was a lot of fun.
But for the last few weeks, she has become guarded around new people; jumping up, getting nippy, mouthing, stealing things, running away from guests then barking at them until they leave, etc. We haven’t done anything differently with her so why is she suddenly being such a naughty dog? She just finished getting her last shot, which our vet said we need to complete before we could take her to puppy class. Could the shot to be the cause of this problem?
The vet responded with:
Unfortunately I hear this problem all the time, and the shot is not the reason why.
Puppies go through a critical socialization period from 3 to 12 weeks old. They are very open to new experiences during this period, which is why it is especially important you expose your dog to new people, places and things. In fact it’s so important that I wrote an article on CSP along with a list of things to expose your puppy to on my website.
Once a puppy hits somewhere between 12 and 16 weeks old, this open period ends and they become naturally wary of things they were not exposed to during their CSP.
Many veterinarians will tell you to not expose your puppy to the outside world until they hit 3 months old, which is when their puppy shots are usually complete. While this is technically true, you miss out on all kinds of psychological benefits and you often end up with a puppy who is skittish and wary of new things. If you take precautions like avoid places where adult dogs walk (pet stores, dog parks, vet office floors, etc.) and wash your puppy’s paws after any questionable exposure, that should keep her safe and allow you to get her the socialization experience she needs.
This is one of the reasons why puppy socialization class is so important during a puppy’s CSP. It helps build confidence and social skills (inviting another dog to play, how hard they can play and how to say “I don’t want to play,” for example), while also helping reduce or stop many common puppy problems like nipping and mouthing.
However, you can overcome this lack of exposure and should address it ASAP. The difference is you will have to put a lot more work into it now than you would have during CSP. During the CSP, a single exposure to something in a positive way is often enough for a puppy to no longer be wary of that item. After the CSP, you may have to expose your pup to it 50 or more times to get the same effect.
I’d sign your puppy up for a puppy socialization class ASAP to help her start to develop social skills. Make sure the class instruction only utilizes positive reinforcement (no punishment) and doesn’t have too many other puppies in it, as this may be overwhelming and intimidating for your pup.
Arrange to have a few people come over to visit each week for the next few months. Puppy socialization is most important the first three months of a puppy’s life, but is effective the first nine months. So you still have time to get your puppy some confidence from new exposure and experiences.
Wow! If you’re a new puppy owner (we’re looking at all you lucky people who got a puppy around the holidays!), it’s super important to make sure that your pup is socialized. If you’ve missed the ‘critical’ window (and sometimes that can’t be helped, such as with rescue dogs), you’ll need to work hard to make sure you raise a happy, healthy, confident dog. An easy & smart way to do that is by enrolling them in puppy daycare.
How Puppy Daycare Helps You Raise Them Right
Puppy daycare at Dogtopia helps you raise your pup to become well adjusted and confident. They’ll be around new people and other dogs of various sizes and play styles, all while being watched by our trained room attendants. Your puppy will be in a climate controlled environment, and our rooms and run is sanitary due to air filtration and an antimicrobial play surface. We keep them safe, and help them gain those critical social skills they may have missed out on. In some cases, we may not be able to bring your dog into our group; in those cases, it makes sense to follow the instructions the vet outlined above, socializing your puppy in limited 1-on-1 interactions with people and stable, well-adjusted dogs. We recommend this for dogs that don’t pass our initial assessment, which we do with each and every dog to ensure that all attendees are safe and happy with the open play concept.
Ready to get started? Your pup will LOVE it! Contact us today to schedule a tour.