The Social K9
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A four month puppy is developmentally similar to a five year child.
Contrary to what even some vets may recommend, it is important to socialize your puppy with other healthy vaccinated puppies, dogs, and people dogs before their last set of shots!! The risk of your puppy developing lifelong behavior problems far out weigh the risks of them contracting preventable diseases.
Don't wait until your puppy is 4 or 5 months old to take them to a puppy class or group socialization with other healthy dogs. Imagine taking a child to the first day of kindergarten if they had never seen another five year old, or ever had to listen to a different adult other than their parent.
Socialization Experiences at 4 months:
-Introduction to a little bit larger crowds of people and dogs. Now that your puppy is gaining confidence and social skills, you can begin to take a bigger step into the world. Good places to go are puppy classes, outdoor shopping malls, and parks where dogs are on leash. After the final set of vaccinations, off leash parks are fine, if you know of a clean one that is fenced on all sides, where the other dogs are known to be friendly.
-Continue walks on leash primarily. The leash builds confidence and trust for you and your dog. On leash time should be the norm during this time, and off leash time should be occasional. This is the time when puppies may become “hyper” and a little aggressive when it comes to play. (Think of a kindergarten play room again.) Supervise all off leash activity closely. You cannot control other dogs that have not been socialized as well as yours has. Your dog should look to you for leadership, and the only way to assure that they can see you, is if they are on a leash.
-Protect your wood and leather! Just like a human child, puppies get their permanent teeth during this time. Provide plenty of chew toys and allow them access to them at all times. When you leave, and they are left alone in the crate, provide a special treat. (Try rubber toys stuffed with treats and frozen.)
-Car Trips! Dogs love to go with you in the car. If you are going on short trips, bring the puppy. The car provides a great opportunity to see and smell areas far away from home. Most puppies will have out grown any car sickness by this age, and if they are crate trained, will do very well in the car. .