Puppy Socialization

An article in April’s issue of Dog Fancy magazine described the process of turning your new puppy into a “people-friendly” dog. Written by Katie Matola, it emphasizes the importance of how the socialization process begins at a very young age. We have summarized the main points as follows:

The puppy’s brain is at the developmental stage; he is primed to learn to accept new experiences. This occurs between the ages of 4 to 12 weeks. Puppies have a better chance of getting along with other pets if you introduce them early.

This “socialization window” means that dogs that are not socialized properly during the first three months of their lives may have severely undeveloped social skills. Beyond three months, anything that is introduced is “secondary” socializing. Puppies that have little or no socialization during this first twelve weeks may end up acting shy and afraid of any new people or experience.

Outside the home, myriad socialization opportunities await you and your dog. From umbrellas, people wearing hats, men with facial hair, and large crowds of people; to wheel chairs, cars, and bicycles; new things are around every corner. The more of these you can introduce to your dog when he is a puppy, the more confident he will likely be as an adult. Don’t forget to introduce your puppy to children, whose high – pitched voices and unexpected movements can frighten or arouse aggression in adult dogs that haven’t had the chance to get familiar with them. Closely supervise meetings between puppies and children to ensure a positive experience for both. “One of the best sources of socialization will come from a 4 to 5-year-old supervised child,” said Suzanne Johnson a certified animal behaviorist. “Children will lie on the ground and play with the puppy. They play like another puppy.”

Socialization does not stop at a certain age. Even though patterns may be set early, it is a continual process . . . You must continually exercise and socialize a dog through out their lifetime. Puppy socialization plants seeds of confidence and good behavior; ongoing socialization lets both you and your dog reap the rewards.

Puppy Kindergarten

We would encourage each and every puppy parent to get your puppy off on the right paw by enrolling in Puppy Head Start classes offered at PETsMART, or in classes offered by your local dog-training club. We would recommend waiting till your puppy has completed all three sets of puppy shots (about 16 to 20 weeks old). We believe that a 8 to 10-week-old puppy is just not mentally ready and able to retain all that will be required of him in training classes. In addition, during these first several weeks, you should be developing a close bond and trust relationship with your puppy; he/she will have more confidence after being in your care for a month or so. The time you invest in these early weeks with your new puppy will pay great dividends in the relationship between you and your companion.

The Puppy Head Start classes (or classes at your local dog-training club) are a profitable time: not only will your puppy develop better social skills, but you will be among you own “puppy parent” peers who are probably experiencing certain shared frustrations and who might also have many questions. It’s like a support group; a great time to share and get many questions answered. It will build a strong, long lasting foundation that you can build upon throughout the coming years, and will become the best investment you ever made for you and your puppy. You will have a more well-mannered puppy, and you will become an even better puppy parent!

For more info on Puppy Head Start classes offered in your area, click into www.petsmart.com/training

Males vs Females

My experience proves to me that males make better pets, and several other friends of mine which have been breeding Yorkies, including one who operates a pet rescue from her own home for more than 15 years, also agree that males do make better pets.

EXAMPLE: (This is a true story) A breeder sold 3 females to three women (two with boyfriends and one that was married) wanting female Yorkies thinking that they would bond better; that they would be able to dress their little “princesses” up in pink and have that female bonding time for years to come. This breeder did suggest to each woman that maybe a male would be better: females have a tendency to bond with the male human companion, while the male Yorkie tends to bond much more readily with the female human companion. Each of these three women still chose their little girls. Within an 8-month time frame, each woman called to report that their little Yorkie girl had become bonded to the men. And guess what? Each of them came back the following year and bought a male!

Females have always been in bigger demand, mostly due to bad rumors and incorrect information given about males. This fact alone makes the female puppies much harder to find, because:

A. Breeders keep them back to preserve certain blood lines, and

B. Males have been given a bad reputation about certain behavior (which is not always true in every male) which increases the demand for females.

Do Males make Better pets than Females?

“This opinion was taken from a dog breeder with many years experience, not every thing written here is a fact, just an opinion … a little food for thought!”

Many people believe that female dogs make better pets…female preference seems to be ingrained in these people. Most calls for pet dogs have people wanting a ‘sweet girl’. They don’t think females display alpha behaviors like ‘marking’ and/or ‘humping’. They believe that they are more docile and attentive and do not participate in fighting over dominance.Well folks, this is not always true.

In the dog pack makeup, females usually rule the roost, determine pecking order, and who compete to maintain and/or alter that order. The females are, as a result, more independent, stubborn, and territorial than their male counterparts. The females are much more intent upon exercising their dominance by participating in alpha behaviors such as ‘humping’.Most fights will usually break out between 2 females.

Males, on the other hand, are usually more affectionate, exuberant, attentive, and more demanding of attention. They are very attached to their people. They also tend to be more steadfast, reliable, and less moody. They are more outgoing, more accepting of other pets, and take quicker to children. Most boys are easily motivated by food and praise, and so eager to please that training is easy. However, males can be more easily distracted during training, as males like to play so often. And no matter what age, he is more likely to act silly and more puppy-like, always wanting to play games.

The difference between sizes and sexes is minimal, if bred correctly. Neutered males can exhibit secondary sexual behavior such as ‘humping’, or ‘marking’ and lifting of legs. But once the testosterone levels recede after neutering, most of these behaviors will disappear. Boys who were neutered early (by 5 months of age) usually don’t ever raise their leg to urinate.

The female will usually come to you for attention. When she’s had enough, she will move away. Boys, on the other hand, are always near at hand and waiting for your attention. Females are usually less distracted during training, as they is more eager to get it over with, and get back to her comfy spot on the couch. The female is less likely to wage a dominance battle with YOU, but she can be cunning and resourceful in getting her own way. She is much more prone to mood swings. One day she may be sweet and affectionate-the next day reserved and withdrawn or even grumpy. The female also has periods of being ‘in heat’ unless she is spayed. Seasonal heats can be a nightmare-not just for the female, but you and every male dog in the neighborhood. If you are not breeding, you’d be best off to have her spayed. Since during this time she can leave a bloody discharge on carpets, couches, or anywhere she goes. She will be particularly moody and emotional during this time. A walk outside during this period can become hazardous if male dogs are in the vicinity, and she will leave a ‘scent’ for wandering intact males to follow right to your yard, where they will hang out, and ‘wait’ for days.

Before deciding on male or female, give consideration to any other dogs that may be in or around your home.

Pet Therapy

The Benefits We Experience When Pets (Animals) Are Beside Us

Holistic-online.com Pet Therapy works by providing proximity to animals to those who can benefit by it. What are the benefits we accrue when animals are brought near us? Delta Society suggests the following benefits of having pets beside us or living with pets.

We Develop More Empathy

Studies report that children who live in homes in which a pet is considered a member of the family are more empathetic than children in homes without pets. This could be due to a variety of reasons:

Children see animals as peers. They can identify better with animals than human beings. Animal psychology is very simple. With animals, what you see is what you get. Humans are not as direct. We need to develop talent to read and interpret “body language.” Children can read an animal’s body language.

As children get older, their ability to empathize with animals will carry over into their experiences with people.

We Develop An Outward Focus

Individuals who have mental illness or low self-esteem focus on themselves. Animals can help them focus on their environment. Rather than thinking and talking about themselves and their problems, they watch and talk to and about the animals.


Nurturing skills are learned. Most of learn this from our parents. Those who do not learn these skills from their parents can learn by taking care of their pets. By being taught to take care of an animal, the children can develop these skills. Psychologically, when a person nurtures, his/her need to be nurtured is being fulfilled.


Animals can open a channel of emotionally safe, non-threatening communication between client and therapist. In therapy settings, animals help present an air of emotional safety. If a therapist has an animal in his/her office, s/he “can’t be all bad.” The animal’s presence may open a path through the person’s initial resistance. Children are especially likely to project their feelings and experiences onto an animal.


Animals have a way of accepting without qualification. They don’t care how a person looks or what they say. (Have you ever heard of your dog deciding to go to your neighbors because he or she feels it is better out there?) An animal’s acceptance is nonjudgmental, forgiving, and uncomplicated by the psychological games people often play. They accept you the way you are.


The presence of an animal provides a much needed entertainment to those watching it. Even people who don’t like animals often enjoy watching their antics and reactions. Especially in long-term care facilities, it seems everyone is entertained by animal visits in some way.


Studies have shown that when dogs and cats come to visit a care facility, there is more laughter and interaction among residents than during any other “therapy” or entertainment time. In an inpatient setting, the presence of animals encourages socialization. Staff members have reported that it is easier to talk to residents during and after animal visits. Family members often come during the animal visits and some have reported that it is an especially comfortable and pleasant time to come.

Mental Stimulation

Mental stimulation occurs because of increased communication with other people, recalled memories, and the entertainment provided by the animals. In situations that are depressing or institutional, the presence of the animals serves to brighten the atmosphere, increasing amusement, laughter, and play. These positive distractions may help to decrease people’s feelings of isolation or alienation.

Physical Contact, Touch

It is well established that touch is very important for the nourishment of our mind and spirit. Infants who are not touched do not develop healthy relationships with other people and often fail to thrive and grow physically. For some people, touch from another person is not acceptable, but the warm, furry touch of a dog or cat is. In hospitals, where most touch is painful or invasive, the touch of an animal is safe, non-threatening, and pleasant. There are a number of programs for people who have been physically or sexually abused in which staff and volunteers are not allowed to touch the clients. In cases like these, having an animal to hold, hug, and touch can make a world of difference to people who would otherwise have no positive, appropriate physical contact.

Physiological Benefits

Many people are able to relax when animals are present. Tests have shown that the decrease in heart rate and blood pressure can be dramatic. Even watching fish swim in an aquarium can be very calming.

Additional Benefits

Some people feel spiritual fulfillment or a sense of oneness with life and nature when they are with their pets. This is hard to define or explain. Some well-known authors have described their relationships with animals and nature as part of their sustaining life energy and/or part of their communion and relationship with God.