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Animal Clinic of Rapid City

Puppy Behavior

Puppy Sleeping Near a Sunny Window

Did you know that experiences during the first 12 weeks of a puppy’s life permanently shape the puppy’s personality and how it will respond to its environment as an adult? These first few months are a critical period for every puppy, and fortunately, we can help ensure they are having positive experiences. Gently exposing them to a variety of people, places, and situations can make a huge impact on their adult temperament. Proper socialization can help a dog from being fearful of children, the vet (!!!), and even riding in the car. Improper or lack of socialization can lead to serious behavior problems later in life.

A good breeder will start the socialization period prior to you taking your new puppy home. But here are some things to keep in mind once you have your puppy home and are ready to socialize!

  • Introduce your puppy to new people. This should be done in a controlled fashion as we don’t want to overwhelm the puppy. Positive reinforcement and treats are important to ensure the puppy enjoys these experiences! Introduce your puppy to “weird” people as well- such as people with hats, hoods, glasses, wheelchairs, canes, etc.

  • Puppy classes are a fantastic way to introduce your puppy to other people and other puppies! These are very controlled, safe environments for your puppy to gain confidence in. Not to mention a great refresher on training your puppy.

  • Don’t overwhelm your puppy. Start small and slow and in a comfortable environment. Taking your new puppy to a party is likely going to do more harm than good and will be overly stimulating for the puppy.

  • Make sure your puppy is up-to-date on their vaccines! Check with your veterinarian, but generally, puppies will receive vaccinations at 8 weeks, 12 weeks, and 16 weeks. We don’t recommend taking your puppy to pet stores, dog parks, highly trafficked hiking trails, or similar environments until 1-2 weeks AFTER their final puppy vaccine. Even a puppy that is receiving vaccinations can still contract contagious diseases until this time.

Please ask for recommendations for puppy classes if you are interested! There are several options in our area.

If you are looking for some reading material check out “Puppy Start Right” by Debbie Martin and Kenneth Martin.