Today a 12-week old, very sweet Pugal came to day care. It had the softest fur and what is more adorable than the mix of a Pug and a Beagle? But the pup stopped me dead in my tracks for a long look. What should have been a romping, happy canine youngster was instead a shy, very scared little pup that only wanted to hide and be invisible. Instantly I knew this pup could not be mixed with the other small dogs romping the yards. All dogs should be introduced to new dogs slowly but this was a baby and scared to the extreme. I brought it into a small area in my office where I was working on my computer and where I could encourage it while allowing the poor baby to safely observe me and to peek out and then run back under a chair.
Maddie, my Westie, is so well trained. I’m a trainer and I have worked long hours with him to be my canine host here at Doggie Care Resort. Many people have heard me tell Maddie “Sweet & Gentle” which means there’s a puppy, a shy dog or a rescue dog here and you must be extra gentle. Maddie has raised more puppies and helped more fearful dogs than I can count. He totally loves puppies and knows exactly what to do. He rolled over on his back, play bowed and swooshed his rear end toward the puppy in playful, encouraging endeavors. He ran in the opposite direction trying to get the puppy to play. But the puppy was so fearful that he couldn’t respond. It’s one of the only times another dog didn’t respond to him.
Why was this very young pup so fearful? The owner told me that at only 10 weeks old she was encouraged to take the puppy for training and socializing in a local Redmond program. But the puppy was so terrified in class and shook so hard that it could hardly stand. Several big dogs in class were allowed to bark like crazy, very loudly and non-stop which was stressing out all the other doggie students and all the owners as well. In each and every class, these same dogs yelled and screamed totally disrupting the energy of the class. Additionally, full grown, really big dogs romped the classroom barking then sniffing the youngster & terrifying him. The owner was told to put the puppy out in the middle of the floor and let the pup get used to other dogs. The big dogs pounded the floor around the pup and one very big guy accidentally stepped on him injuring the leg of the pup. The youngster had diarrhea in the middle of the floor, totally froze and couldn’t move. Well, I must say there are some really good trainers and then there are some that shouldn’t be training.
Smartly, the owner decided not to finish the class. She brought the dog to our daycare for socializing. Well, in analyzing this, it’s clearly obvious that this pup has had some terrifying experiences at a young age and a time when it’s most important that a pup be guarded, feel secure and receive only happy experiences. Don’t get me wrong. Young dogs totally need socializing early with other dogs, new situations and different people but there are good ways and bad ways to do it.
But let me first say that most puppies are not fully vaccinated and protected until 12 to 14 weeks old. Why this young pup was supposedly protected at under nine weeks old is a question indeed. Vets today are spacing out the shots even on older dogs. At under nine weeks old, how could that pup have that many injections in that short of time? It is understood why a pup would be pushed to get into a socializing program but that’s a lot of injection for a young pup.
Secondly, when you have dogs that absolutely won’t stop barking, they should be removed from class and receive some private instruction before they can return to class. Third, there’s a time and a place to leave a puppy down and not pick him up. Picking up a pup because he’s scared when, in fact, there’s no danger at all….actually communicates to the pup that he should be afraid. That sounds odd, but it’s true. However, placing that pup in the middle of huge, actively playing dogs and then having him injured is enough to make that pup afraid for a long time. It now will take great patience, persistence and a knowledge in training to get this puppy past his fear. Nevertheless, we can and will do it. Because the pup is so young, I do believe we’ll have him up and playing with some other sweet dogs in no time.
There’s a lot to be done in raising a puppy. Try to read some quality books on raising a pup. If you will email me, I’ll be happy to send you a list of great books. Also, be sure and find a high quality, very knowledgeable trainer. The trainer can make the difference in your puppy becoming happy and well adjusted or becoming shy, fearful and even a biting dog in later years. Do some research and be patient, persistent and encouraging with your puppy, they are well worth the effort.
Note Two Weeks Later: Oh my gosh, you should see this same puppy now. He has been coming twice a week to daycare and with an understanding of his fear & great supervision this adorable youngster is romping with every other playful dog. It is truly Sweet Success.