Puppy Socialiation

We haven’t blogged in a while, so why now? Because ’tis the time of year for puppies, for both individuals and for rescues. Whether you are a foster or a forever with puppies in your care, these socialization tips will help you give your pups the best possible chance to grow into well-socialized dogs.

By Victoria Rose, Canine Training Solutions

This is the most-important thing people need to know about dogs!

Dog Training BookSocialization is vital to puppies because it sets the foundation for the rest of their lives. It’s the single most-important need pups have. Their key socialization period is from three to 16 weeks. (This is also the time when the puppy learns more quickly than at any other time in his life. In addition, what he learns during this period will stay with him for life.)

Responsible breeders start the process, then send their puppies to new homes at the optimal age of 7½ weeks. The new owners then have 8½ weeks to accustom the pups to various types of people, animals, situations, environments and experiences.

Work hard that two months – it pays off big-time!

Whoever said you can’t buy happiness forgot about little puppies!

– Gene Hill

Early socialization, done correctly, builds confidence. Confident puppies usually become stable adults. If not socialized, as a rule, they become fearful. Timid dogs are often miserable, and much more likely to bite. About 4.5 million people are bitten each year in the United States, with more than 800,000 of those bites requiring medical attention. Most of the victims who receive medical attention are children, half of whom are bitten in the face.

Make thorough socialization of your youngster your top priority so you don’t suffer the hazards (from his running away terrified on the 4th of July to disfiguring a child) inherent in owning an under-confident dog.

The best way to get a puppy is to ask for a baby brother –

and they’ll settle for a puppy every time.

– Winston Pendelton

You, friends and strangers should handle, hold and hug him regularly, as well as look into his eyes, ears and mouth, examine his genitals and fiddle with his teeth, paws and nails (all of which your veterinarian and groomer will thank you for later) before he’s 4 months old. In addition, also have him:

Encounter dozens of children, babies and toddlers and adults of all shapes, sizes and mannerisms. Meet people with floppy hats, umbrellas, canes, crutches and wheelchairs. Greet the letter carrier, meter reader and UPS driver. Hang out with kids on skate boards and bikes. Play with lots of dogs (don’t let them dominate or bully him). Watch cats, birds, mice, rabbits, cows, goats, horses and chickens. Visit duck ponds. Ride elevators and go through car washes and tunnels. Walk on an assortment of surfaces, tables and stairs.

Buy a pup and you will buy love unflinching.

– Rudyard Kipling

Introduce him to vehicles, vacuum cleaners, lawn mowers, fly swatters, kites, noisy pans, rolling barrels, shopping carts, crowds, traffic, construction zones and fireworks.

These events must not threaten him. Work in short sessions, at a distance from the stimulus where the puppy is not intimidated or stressed. Use food, toys and praise to reward him when he is calm and confident. This is critical. Just as you attempt to “imprint” him with enduring positive experiences, so can you also, if you err, imprint him permanently with negative experiences. It’s imperative he not be frightened. If so, you may have gone too close, too quickly. Back up and slow down. Socialize in a way that he never becomes scared. It may be helpful to join a well-run puppy class.

A dog may be man’s best friend, but a child’s best friend is a puppy.

– Unknown

Also, just a word of caution from a training standpoint: You want your kid to be friendly, calm and secure in the presence of strangers, but if you “over-socialize,” that is… let so many people pet and feed him that he starts to look to others for rewards, you may be disappointed to find that in public, he makes a pest of himself to others and you no longer have his attention (which you need to control and train him). Always strive for balance. You want him comfortable with people touching and interacting with him, but you don’t want him to crave it to the point that it becomes his primary objective (over you). Keep his attention on you with praise and yummy (not routine) treats.

That said, there is another serious caution: Diseases are real threats to puppies. Until his vaccinations are in effect (usually at about age 4-4½ months), do not allow him within sneezing distance of dogs with whose health you are unfamiliar, or on the ground in areas where infected dogs may have defecated. Don’t walk him in parks, or even your front yard if it’s accessible to strays. Carry him or keep him in a pen or on a mat. Ask people to use hand disinfectant before they pet him and don’t let him sniff their shoes as these are methods of transmission. (Everyone should take off their shoes before entering your home and wash their hands before meeting your puppy.)

There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.

– Ben Williams

Do not let these threats keep you from socializing your puppy, as more dogs die from the effects of lack of socialization than from disease. Proper socialization will help him become a happy, confident, life-long member of your family.

‘Til next time, kiss the kids!


Get more tips and tricks on loving and living with dogs by subscribing to the free “Doggie Parenting” e-Newsletter. Victoria offers dog training/behavior modification in-home in Oregon and by phone or via her “Baby Steps” training manual throughout the US. All services are guaranteed; payments accepted. For more information, visit www.CanineTrainingSolutions.info

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2012 Wrap Up

Though we have not been posting regularly, we are still here to support you in rescue-related matters. We have been unable to complete a cat rescue manual at this time because we have not received the necessary support from the cat rescue community, but our dog rescue best practices manual has helped many rescuers improve their organizations. If you’re interested in reading it, check it out here.

During 2012, we created several informational flyers for rescues to share in order to educate the public about topics such as dog breeding, adoption, and puppy mills. These materials are available here.

We also presented the Don’t Kill Bill show in Lakewood, Colorado, for an audience of about 200. The show raised awareness about puppy mills, adoption, and volunteering, and it generated several thousand dollars in funding for local rescue organizations. Additionally, we made a presentation to local rescue organizations about how to find and maintain volunteers. This presentation is available here.

In 2013, we will continue to provide resources for rescue organizations. If there is something specific we can assist you with, please contact us.

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Photography Interns Help Colorado Rescues

Do you struggle to get good photos of your adoptable animals that will truly capture the hearts of potential adopters?
Jaime Rowe Photography is organizing a group of interested interns in the Denver area to help photograph rescue dogs in a happy and fun environment! The interns will be required to fill out an application, be approved and attend a one hour pet photography workshop called “Respect and Reflect.” The interns will then attend rescue events and photograph dogs that the rescue coordinator has chosen. The interns will then send the images to the rescue coordinator within 5 days of the event. The rescue coordinator will then have a beautiful picture that respects and reflects the inner beauty of the rescue dog! Hopefully this will decrease the time it takes for a dog to be adopted!
If you are interested in getting on the Barkroom Internship schedule, then please e-mail Jaime today: jaime@jaimerowephotography.com
Please let us know the following:
Rescue Name:
Event Date & Location:
Estimated # of dogs to photograph:
Thank you so much and we look forward to helping you find forever homes for your rescue dogs in record time!

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The Shelter Pet Project Helps Again


The Ad Council, in partnership with The Humane Society of the United States and Maddie’s Fund, today announced the launch of a second series of public service advertisements (PSAs) for The Shelter Pet Project, a campaign that has helped change the landscape of shelter pet adoption and reduce the euthanasia of shelter pets by 10 percent since its launch in 2009.

Despite a bleak economy, the percentage of pets in homes that were adopted from animal shelters and rescue groups has risen from 27 percent to 29 percent in the last two years, with the number of healthy and treatable pets losing their lives for lack of a home dropping from 3 million to 2.7 million.

Bringing that number all the way to zero is the goal of the campaign, which marks the first time in its history the Ad Council has taken on an animal welfare cause.  The Shelter Pet Project is also the first national PSA campaign that brings together the largest animal welfare organizations and shelters across the country to reach that goal.

The new television, radio, print, outdoor and Web ads, created pro bono by Draftfcb Chicago, focus on the relationship between shelter pets and their owners by featuring pets observing their human’s quirky yet loveable behaviors, concluding with the message that, “A person is the best thing to happen to a shelter pet.” All of the ads direct prospective pet owners to a comprehensive website,www.theshelterpetproject.org, where users are able to search for a pet from a local shelter or rescue group, read adoption success stories and learn valuable information about pet adoption.

“Choosing to adopt is game-changing for you and life-saving for an animal,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. “Pets end up in shelters through no fault of their own – they are often victims of circumstance. If enough people in our nation choose adoption, we can eliminate the euthanasia of healthy and treatable pets in our country.”

“We are expecting our new campaign PSAs to connect with the 17 million people who are going to get a pet this year and convince at least 2.7 million of them to adopt from a shelter or rescue,” said Maddie’s Fund President Rich Avanzino. “We are hopeful that the new ads will also inspire the 14 million animal lovers who have already adopted to tell their friends why shelters are the first and best places to go for a new four-legged family member.”

The Ad Council is distributing the new PSAs to more than 33,000 media outlets nationwide this week.

“In just two years, the number of pets euthanized has decreased by 10 percent, however there are still millions of healthy pets that need a loving home,” said Peggy Conlon, President and CEO, The Advertising Council. “This campaign entertains audiences while bringing an important message, the need to adopt pets from shelters, to the forefront.”

“We are thrilled to be launching the second phase of an already impactful partnership with the Ad Council and its sponsors,” said Nick Paul, EVP, Global Chief Growth Officer, Draftfcb.  “This is a tremendous cause and we hope that the energy and positivity behind the new work will reflect the joy that comes from bringing a pet in need into a loving home. We are confident that the optimism of our message will resonate with the millions of potential adopters that are still out there and bring us even closer to our goal.”

Per the Ad Council model, the PSAs will run and air in advertising time and space that is donated by the media.

The Humane Society of the United States 
The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s largest animal protection organization – backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty. To learn more about The HSUS, please visit humanesociety.org.

Maddie’s Fund
Maddie’s Fund® The Pet Rescue Foundation, (www.maddiesfund.org) is a family foundation funded by Workday and PeopleSoft Founder Dave Duffield and his wife, Cheryl. Maddie’s Fund is helping to create a no-kill nation where all healthy and treatable shelter dogs and cats are guaranteed a loving home. Maddie’s Fund is named after the family’s beloved Miniature Schnauzer.

Draftfcb is the first global, behavior-based, holistic marketing communications organization to operate against a single P&L. In delivering its clients a high Return on Ideassm, the agency is driven by The 6.5 Seconds That MatterSM, a creative expression recognizing the brief period of time marketers have to capture consumers’ attention and motivate them to act. With nearly 140 years of combined expertise, Draftfcb has roots in both consumer advertising and behavioral, data-driven direct marketing and firmly believes there is no way to separate creativity from accountability. Part of the Interpublic Group of Companies (NYSE:IPG), the Draftfcb network spans 97 countries with more than 9,600 employees.

The Ad Council
The Ad Council (www.adcouncil.org) is a private, non-profit organization that marshals volunteer talent from the advertising and communications industries, the facilities of the media, and the resources of the business and non-profit communities to deliver critical messages to the American public. The Ad Council has produced, distributed and promoted thousands of public service campaigns on behalf of non-profit organizations and government agencies in issue areas of health & safety, community and education.

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Let’s Make a CAT Rescue Best Practices Manual

To follow up with the success of our dog rescue best practices manual, we are now ready to take the first steps forward to create a cat rescue best practices manual. The format for the manual will be similar in format and creation process to our dog rescue manual, but, of course, it will be tailored to help cat rescuers.

Get Involved

The first step is for us to gather a group of enthusiastic, experienced cat rescuers to help us compile data about cat rescue best practices. If you are a cat rescuer with at least two years of experience and you’d like to help us with this project, please email us with your name, rescue organization name, and anything you feel should be added to the preliminary outline we’ve posted at http://bit.ly/tnrJHr.

Participation Commitment

In January, I’ll write participants and ask you to select topics to specialize in. We’ll need you to write about your topics (or edit our existing work to apply to cat rescue for topics that were included in the dog rescue book) by February 15th. At that time, we’ll start posting what you’ve written to our blog for other rescuers to comment on, and from the information we gather, we will convert everyone’s feedback into sections of the manual. (Don’t worry – you don’t need great writing skills – just solid ideas.)

Expected Outcome

In return, we will be very grateful for your participation, and we will list you in the acknowledgements as a participating organization. The project will be fun to participate in, and you’ll feel great about being a part of this groundbreaking project that will help rescuers save more lives.

The completed manual will be available online for free or in paperback for $29.95 because it will include editable documents for rescues to use.


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You Should Know: National Canine Research Council

A Facebook friend just introduced me to the National Canine Research Council, and I’m glad she did because it’s an organization I would be happy to refer people to as a resource. At their website, you’ll find information about breed specific legislation (and its ineffectiveness), proper pet care and acquisition, and other topics of interest to responsible pet guardians. Now, if only we could get the irresponsible pet guardians to check out this resource!

This month I challenge you to speak up to someone you know who may be caring for or acquiring pets irresponsibly. Share this link, print off a .pdf from our resource library, or simply have a conversation about how acting more responsibly will positively affect his or her life.

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Great Volunteers – Part 4

This post is the final in a series about finding and maintaining great volunteers. It covers how to keep volunteers happy.

Do you have anything to add?

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Great Volunteers – Part 3

This is the third post in a series about finding and maintaining great volunteers. In order to prepare this presentation, I polled rescue volunteers to find out how they felt about their volunteer experiences with their current organizations and what they felt would be the ideal experience for volunteers. The data collected was both interesting and useful.

Here’s the video:

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Great Volunteers – Part 2

This is the second post in a series about finding and maintaining great volunteers. Since you need to have volunteers before you can treat them well, the logical place to begin seemed to be with how to find volunteers. I start this talk with a little about what volunteering has meant to me. (If you don’t know my background, I’ve been volunteering with MidAmerica Boston Terrier Rescue for about four years, helping by fostering, transporting, and attending occasional events.)

Here’s the video:

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Finding and Maintaining Great Volunteers – Part 1

I gave a talk to the members of All Breed Rescue Network this past weekend. I was excited and honored to have been invited, as ABRN is a wonderful organization that assists rescues operating in Colorado to save the most lives possible. Rather than try to paraphrase, let me just give you their mission:

The mission of All Breed Rescue Network, Inc., is to provide a vehicle for the fostering and rehoming of abandoned purebred dogs, to assist in increasing the adoption of shelter dogs by promoting awareness and working with shelters, and to educate the community regarding responsible dog ownership including the spay/neuter of companion animals.

This past weekend was their annual luncheon with about 50 attendees from various rescues, including St. Bernard rescue, Beagle rescue, Westie rescue, and many more. I was allowed the freedom to choose which topic to speak on, and I decided volunteerism, since encouraging people to get involved is a passion of mine. Ironically, the ABRN president had the same idea, and the meeting that followed my talk focused on volunteering, too. It all worked out great.

Basically, the premise of the talk was that people who serve as rescue board members and founders have an amazing opportunity to not only change the lives of dogs, but also to change the lives of people, which will create positive change in society as a whole. A few key points included

  1. Saying “Thank-you,” no matter by what means (email, phone, mail, etc.), is only truly meaningful if you do it with no strings attached.
  2. The best way to keep volunteers is to provide adequate training and prompt assistance when necessary and to ensure they feel included, appreciated, and that their work is meaningful.
  3. People who wish to volunteer with your organization abound, but they can’t possibly do so if they don’t know that opportunities exist. Making clearly defined information about volunteering with your organization readily available to the public is fundamental in growing your volunteer base.

Throughout the week I’ll give you more specifics, but for now, I’d like to leave you with a poem from Julia Butterfly Hill, the woman who protected a section of our Redwood Forest by living in a tree for more than two years. This is a poem she wrote to herself about letting go, which I believe is key in running a volunteer-based organization. Enjoy!

As I started to picture the trees in the storm,
the answer began to dawn on me. The trees in the
storm don’t try to stand up straight and tall and
erect. They allow themselves to bend and be blown
with the wind. They understand the power of
letting go. Those trees and those branches that
try too hard to stand up strong and straight are
the ones that break. Now is not the time for you
to be strong, or you, too, will break.

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