My original plan was to write about vaccines for adult dogs but because this is the last day of 2009, I felt like writing about something more fun. In the previous two blogs, I wrote about avoiding puppy mills and catteries and how to make sure that we do not over-vaccinate our animal friends. Your dog's happiness = health = big savings on vet bills.
The holiday season made me think even more about how important social life is for people but also our dogs. Perhaps, you just went through the Christmas all relieved that the relatives are gone. But honestly, how would you feel if friends and family never stopped by? I am sure you would miss them.
Despite most dogs thriving on social interaction, many new puppy owners are being told by their health care providers that their puppy should not see any other dogs for the first three to four months of their life. I find such an approach unnecessary and often the reason for poor social skills and behavioral problems.
Not allowing your puppy to meet any other dogs can be compared to prohibiting children from any socialization until the school age!
Socialization is a way of learning the ropes of pack hierarchy, recognizing a friendly dog or the one that is better to avoid.
How to make your dog’s life fun?
1. As soon as you get your dog, try to connect with either the littermate owners or connect with a network of like-minded people through puppy classes, interest groups and so on.
2. If possible make more than one friend and if you trust your friends, allow sleepovers and walks without your presence. There may be time when you may need dog sitting and having a few friends who are willing to help can be very handy.
3. Exchange of dog sitting services will give you the peace of mind when you are on holidays.
4. Young dogs are always tolerated by the adults and it is the best opportunity to learn canine language. If an exchange of opinions happens, between and adult and a young dog, it is usually harmless but a very useful lesson.
5. Try not to leave your dog alone for extended periods of time. Even dogs can get bored and depressed. If you work full time and can’t come and see your dog over the lunch break, try to create connections with other dog people who are on a different schedule and can take your dog out for some fun. I recommend going on a few dogs walks with your friend to ensure that your dog is familiar with his new buddies.
6. Interaction with children is wonderful if your puppy is not scared or doesn’t have a tendency to bite. I love watching children and dogs play because they are so alike in many ways.
7. Take your dog along whenever you can. Some shops and even restaurants in more progressive countries allow dogs. Many hotels also allow dogs and majority of my friends and families welcome dogs. We have a rule in our house, if you want us to come for a visit, our dog comes along.
8. As it is a good time for new year resolutions, one of them may be to spending more quality with your dog, doing things such as playing, combing them, giving a massage, playing hide and seek, teaching the names of toys or, once in a while, a luxurious snooze on the bed together.
Remember that happy pets need no vets.
© Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM