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SOCIALIZATION

By Puppies No Comments

Socialization
The holiday season is a common time of year when families introduce new four legged family members into the house, especially new puppies. Puppyhood is a critical time in your dog’s development. Training and socializing is laying the foundation for a great adult dog and the more you put into that foundation the better your adult dog will be for it. This is by no means a complete instruction for socializing your puppy but a guideline to point you in the right direction and spark a bit of creativity.

Most of us have grown a lot in how dogs and puppies learn. My family used the “stick the puppy’s nose in it” potty training technique, and I don’t think we even heard of socializing our dogs. Any socialization we did was purely accidental. Today, behaviorist and trainers sing the praises of socialization and it is now part of our mainstream puppy vocabulary. However, this is the area in which new puppy owners need the most help.
Socialization is defined as “a continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior, and social skills appropriate to his or her social position (Dictionary.com, 2012).” Simply stated, expose your puppy to the world while teaching your puppy how to interact in an appropriate manner. You will be building a solid foundation of knowledge about the world that your adult dog will use in his daily interactions. We don’t want our brave, boisterous puppies to jump all over people when they walk in the door. Nor do we want our shy puppy to be scared of everyone that walks in the front door. Both are examples of what we may deem inappropriate interactions with house guests, and it is our job to teach our puppies the appropriate response.

Socialization can be considered controlled exposure to a stressor, which can be good or bad. Being introduced to stressors at a young age allows the puppy to learn how to deal and cope with stress. It is our job as puppy parents to help our puppies see these stressors in a good light without overwhelming them. Overwhelming a puppy during socialization can be just as detrimental as not socializing at all. Socialization does not guarantee an adult dog will not develop behavioral problems; however socialization is the best preventative medicine against them.
Researchers say that a puppy’s socialization period is from 4 weeks of age to roughly 12 to 16 weeks of age. Puppy raisers can vacuum near the whelping box, drop pans, and have people come over to play with the puppies to begin the process. After adoption some people wait until the puppy has had all of their vaccines before they even begin to socialize. However, most puppies do not receive their final vaccine until 16 weeks of age, which is the end of the socialization window. So one must be careful where they take young puppies. Dog parks or dog friendly malls that do NOT check vaccines on dogs entering might not be wise place to take your puppy. Puppies can be carried to meet people but avoid dog-dog interaction or heavily used doggie potty areas to lower your puppy’s risk. Training centers, boarding facilities, etc. that require current vaccines are a safer option for dog-dog interactions.

During puppy appointments here at Veterinary General, owners often describe socialization with their puppy as playing with household dogs and meeting people that come to the house. These puppies do well with familiar friends and family, but not necessarily new people as they grow older. They may also become anxious or overly excited when they leave the home. Traveling with your puppy to new locations will also get them used to car rides and give them more exposure to world. So, how do you socialize your puppy?

Next installment we will look at how to plan your puppy’s socialization visits to set your puppy up for success! Below is a quote, even though it is about parenting children, I feel it fits our interactions with our puppies.

“In some ways being a parent is like being an anthropologist who is studying a primitive and isolated tribe by living with them…. To understand the beauty of child development, we must shed some of our socialization as adults and learn how to communicate with children on their own terms, just as an anthropologist must learn how to communicate with that primitive tribe.”
-Lawrence Kutner

WELCOME!

By Veterinary General No Comments

Welcome to Veterinary General’s blog! We decided to enter the world of blogging not only to educate our clients, but to educate other pet owners around the world. The internet can be a source of great information, but also a lot of misinformation, rumors, myths, and opinions presented as fact. We will make our blog a great educational resource filled with unbiased, scientifically backed information that you can rely on. However, we want to make sure it is reader friendly and as free of medical jargon as possible, so our blog doesn’t become your cure for insomnia.
To start our blog we wanted to begin with a sensational, attention grabbing article that will make anyone want to read more every month. No pressure right? Since our goal, was “a new year, a new blog,” we thought an introduction to our culture is a good place to start. Below is a scholarship paper written by a valued employee that moved on to be certified in physical rehabilitation. We feel she captured our philosophy precisely.
How Veterinary Technicians Make a Difference in Veterinary Medicine
Veterinary technicians are the medical partners to veterinarians; highly skilled and knowledgeable, technicians are an asset to the veterinary practice. Technicians fill many roles in the hospital as well as keep it organized, sanitary, and running smoothly. Out of all the essential tasks technicians perform, the biggest difference a veterinary technician can make is to the families of the pets they treat. Without the families who own pets, veterinary medicine could not exist. When a technician loses sight of the client, they lose sight of the very essence of veterinary medicine; helping improve the human-pet bond through better health and well-being of their pet.
Every new kitten or puppy gives a veterinary technician a chance to lay a solid foundation of trust and respect between the family and their veterinarian. A technician can aide the family through the ups and downs of puppy and kitten hood, and provide the guidance they need to raise a great family pet. As the pet grows so does our relationship with the family, sharing the pain of needle like teeth and the laughs of baby antics.
As puppies and kittens grow up the technician walks the family through their pet’s spay or neuter, and this is often the last time they see their patients as babies. Educational puppy and kittens visits become annual, wellness, or vaccine appointments. These yearly routine visits can easily make families feel like a number. Asking questions, observing, and listening to the family, a technician can use their knowledge to identify potential concerns before they can become medical problems.
As their pets age or become ill, veterinary technicians can make the biggest difference in the family’s life. Technicians, with their knowledge of diseases and pharmacology, can guide the family through treatment regimens and explain the disease processes to truly educate the family to the health status of their pet. This allows the family to leave confident in their decisions, treatment plan, and diagnosis for their pet. Clients educated by their veterinary technicians are less likely to venture to other non-medical sources for their medical information.
Veterinary technicians can work with their veterinarians to develop plans that must fit the needs of the patient and also fit the needs of the family. Treating and preventing illness is our long-term goal and client compliance is the veterinary professional’s biggest hurdle. If a family feels they cannot follow through with the treatment plan a technician communicates with the veterinarian to alter the plan. Compliance cannot be forced, but can be inspired by a caring, patient technician who knows the special needs or circumstances that surround the patients and their families.
Veterinary technicians can use their skills to aid elderly patients in a humane and caring manner. Technicians are there to share the grief of the families when a poor diagnosis is given. They are there for families without judgment, with words of sympathy, and a box of Kleenex when it is time to say goodbye. With the veterinarian, technicians help the family through the loss of their beloved family member with compassion and kindness.
From adoption to the senior years, veterinary technicians make a difference to the health of their patients, but also their family. It is an honor to support the bond between a family and their pets. This bond is the cornerstone of our profession. As veterinary technicians we have a choice to embrace our clients as families caring for their loved ones as best they know how or just another appointment, this choice can be the difference between a rewarding career or just another job.
We hope you enjoyed the article and the introduction to our practice’s culture. Next entry we will cover socialization of puppies! This will be a series of posts aimed at creating a socialization plan that is fun and customized to your puppy’s personality.

Cathryn Adolph, LVT, CCRP