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Jan 1, 2006


Today’s professional dog trainer needs to develop expertise in a wide variety of fields: learning theory, training techniques, classroom strategies, marketing, community relations, and business development and management. This collection of articles from APDT’s “Chronicle of the Dog” will prove a valuable resource for trainers and would-be trainers. Learn what you need to know from experts like Bob Bailey, Jean Donaldson, Ian Dunbar, Nicole Wilde, Sue Sternberg, and Karen Overall. Click here to view an excerpt.

Click here for 10 Things You Can Do to Promote Positive Training.

What reviewers are saying...

“Over the years, The Association of Pet Dog Trainers, APDT, has produced valuable information on dog training and behavior through it’s newsletter: The APDT Chronicle of the Dog. This noew publication brings together the APDT information with a collection of 80 articles by 40 authors. The Dog trainer’s Resource is aimes at helping trainers develop expertise in animal behavior, human psychology, and business management.” Editor

“What an excellent collection of articles previously published by the Association of Pet Dog Trainers’ newsletter! This book is well organized and permits the reader to select a specific topic of interest. You do not necessarily have to read it in any specific order… The wide variety of articles will certainly appeal to lay readers, professional dog trainers, and veterinary professionals. What more could we ask for?!... There is so much more to educate not only dog trainers, but also the owner and veterinary staff. I think this book would prove beneficial to be on the shelf of anyone (not only professionals) that has a keen interest in dog behavior. The wealth of information and the practical application of the subject matter will clearly be a guide to anyone interested in training their dog. We could all profit from reading this text. Happy Reading! - 4.5 out of 5 paws” Mary Ellen Goldberg, BS, VMT, LVT, SRA

Lançado em:
Jan 1, 2006


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The Dog Trainer’s Resource

The APDT Chronicle of the Dog Collection

Mychelle E. Blake, Editor

The Dog Trainer’s Resource. The APDT Chronicle of the Dog Collection

Mychelle E. Blake, Editor

Dogwise Publishing

A Division of Direct Book Service, Inc.

PO Box 2778

701B Poplar Wenatchee, Washington 98807

1-509-663-9115, 1-800-776-2665

website: www.dogwisepublishing.com

email: info@dogwisepublshing.com

©2007 The Association of Pet Dog Trainers

Graphic Design: Nathan Woodward, Dogwise Publishing

Indexing: Elaine Melnick, Our Index Lady

Cover Photo: Karen Hartman

Interior Photos: Mychelle Blake, Dale Burke, Don Hanson, Karen Hartman, and Adam Morrison

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, digital or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage or retrieval system without permission in writing from the publisher.

Limits of Liability and Disclaimer of Warranty:

The author and publisher shall not be liable in the event of incidental or consequential damages in connection with, or arising out of, the furnishing, performance, or use of the instructions and suggestions contained in this book.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data:

The Dog Trainer’s Resource : The APDT Chronicle of the Dog Collection / edited by Mychelle Blake.

      p. cm.

   ISBN-13: 978-1-929242-39-9 (alk. paper)

   ISBN-10: 1-929242-39-5 (alk. paper)

  1. Dogs—Training. 2. Dogs—Behavior. 3. Small business. I. Blake, Mychelle. II. Association of Pet Dog Trainers.

  SF431.D66 2007



Printed in the U.S.A.



Ian Dunbar

From the President of APDT

Teoti Anderson

From the Editor

Mychelle Blake

Puppy Training

The Old Fears of Puppy Socialization: Let it Go!

Pia Silvani

Selling Early Socialization

Terry Long

Whelping and Weaning: Thoughts On An Ancient Process

Jodi Binstead

Puppy Temperament Testing

Karen Overall

Learning Theory

The Science of Animal Training

Marian Breland Bailey and Robert E. Bailey

The ABCs of Behavior

Marian Breland Bailey and Robert E. Bailey

Operant Conditioning: Dispelling the Myths

Marian Breland Bailey and Robert E. Bailey

To Click or Not to Click: The Role of the Marker Signal in Shaping Behavior

Lynn Loar

Getting Behavior…With a Click and A Cluck

Bob Bailey and Terry Long

For Those Who Can’t Wait… Generalizing Short Latencies the Bailey & Bailey Way

Terry Long

Assessing Behavioral Research

Melissa Bain

The Structure of Scientific Thought

Karen Overall

The Future of Dog Training: Moving Toward More Objective Inquiry

Jean Donaldson

Dog Behavior, Training, and Modification

The K9 VIP Program: A New Way to Talk Dog

Terry Long

Enriching the Life of Your Dog

Emily Keegans

Defining Dog Behavior, Training, and Modification

Karen Overall

Lure-Reward Training

Ian Dunbar

Eight Criteria for the Effective Use of Punishment in Pet Dog Training

Ian Dunbar

Recognizing Multiple, Related Diagnoses for Treatment Success

Karen Overall

Assessing the Alpha Roll

Terry Ryan

The Settle (Relax) Behavior

Diane Sullivan

Are You Ready to Take on Behavioral Cases?

Pia Silvani

Training the Hunter/Retriever: An Emerging Challenge for Positive Trainers

Jim Barry

The Ubiquitous Labrador Retriever: Has Success Spoiled Our Number One Breed?

Beverly Hebert

What Every Trainer Should Know About Protection Trained Dogs

Dan McNally

Immersion or Deprivation

Edited by Terry Long


An Examination of the Use of the Ethological Perspective for Resolving Inter-Dog Aggression Problems

Wendy van Kerkhove

Dog-Dog Aggression Panel

Edited by Terry Long

Dog-Dog Aggression and Abandonment Training

Trish King

The Success of Treatment Outcomes

Karen Overall

Assessment and Treating of Resource Guarding

Jean Donaldson

Class Tips and Curriculum

The Levels System: Advance-at-Your-Own-Pace Classes

Terry Ryan and Joan Guertin

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Holding Dog Training Classes in a Retail Environment

Wendy van Kerkhove

Improving Class Performance with Fun and Games

Sue Pearson

Running a Class for Reactive Dogs

Ali Brown

Breath: Your Most Important Training Tool

Paul Owens

The Dog Trainer’s Voice

Michelle L. Romano

Clients and the Community

What Do Clients Want?

Michael Baugh

Treat Your Clients Like Dogs!

Nicole Wilde

Knowing When to Ask for Help

Janine Pierce

Meeting the Challenge of Teaching Clients with Special Needs

Veronica Sanchez

Understanding Dog Restrictions—A Resource Guide for Trainers and Their Clients

APDT Legislative Affairs Committee

Freedom Poodles

Audrey Schwartz

Dog Parks: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Trish King with Terry Long

Training Wheels™ Urban Solutions

Sue Sternberg

Providing for Your Dogs When You Are Gone

APDT Legislative Action Committee

Shelter Dogs

The Rescue Dog

Sue Sternberg

Becoming a Shelter Dog

Sue Sternberg

Learning to Read Dogs

Sue Sternberg

The Safety SCAN

Sue Sternberg

Determining Canine Age

Sue Sternberg

The Deterioration of a Shelter Dog

Sue Sternberg

Do Shelters Need Behavior Departments? A Case Study: The Michigan Humane Society

CJ Bentley

Some Thoughts on Euthanasia

Sue Sternberg

Working with Veterinarians

Veterinary Referrals: A Trainer’s Best Friend

Nicole Wilde

Alerting Your Clients to Potential Behavior Problems

Valerie Barrette

Starting a Veterinary-Sponsored Puppy Program

Valerie Barette

Fear and Aggression in the Veterinary Waiting Room

Valerie Barrette

Diagnostic Lab Work: A Primer

Karen Overall

Behavior-Induced Euthanasia

Valerie Barrette

The Business of Dog Training

Starting Your Own Dog Training Business

Susan Smith

When To Ask for Help

Susan Smith

Dog Training Isn’t Rocket Science—But It’s Close!

Audrey Schwartz

Understanding Your Costs and Pricing Your Services

Dan McNally

The Perils of Pricing Private Training Sessions

Wendy van Kerkhove

Liability Protection

Doug Johnson

Internships: Training the Trainer

Mardi Richmond

Thinking about Adding Board and Train To Your Services?

Dan McNally

Dogs in Day Care: Who Are the Best Candidates?

Danette Wells

Marketing Basics

Valerie Barrette

How an Urban Legend Can Jumpstart Your Business

Teoti Anderson

Creating a Web Site for Your Dog Training Business

Stacy Braslau Schneck

The Write Stuff: Launching Yourself Into A Freelance Career

Arden Moore

Behind Every Successful Writer is an Excellent Editor…or Two or Three

Terry Long

So You Want to Enter the Lecture Circuit

Donna Duford

Structuring Your Presentations

Nina Bondarenko

Final Thoughts

Us and Them

Donna Duford

The Future of Dogs

Sue Sternberg

You Saved a Dog’s Life Today

Michael Baugh


APDT (Association of Pet Dog Trainers) membership brings a variety of benefits for dog trainers and others interested in canine behavior and training. Members enjoy tremendous educational and networking opportunities and get access to our e-mail list and a subscription to the award-winning The APDT Chronicle of the Dog . Full members also receive a listing on our Web site trainer directory, access to group discounts on medical, health, life and liability insurance, and discounts on our Annual Educational Conference and Trade Show and Cyber Trade Show. Please visit our Web site at www.apdt.com to join the APDT. Or, you can call 1-800-PET-DOGS or email us at information@apdt.com.


I am so pleased to have been asked to write the Foreword for The Dog Trainer’s Resource. The APDT Chronicle of the Dog Collection—a selection of articles published in the newsletter for the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT). Over the years, the Chronicle has provided a wealth of information for APDT members. In book form, these articles will remain available to veteran trainers as well as those who are new to the field and to their (human) clients.

During the 1980s, pet dog training was already a long-established profession, yet without professional organization or representation. Most dog training clubs and classes were governed by Kennel Clubs. Club members would train specialized breeds for years to perfect a number of obedience drills for competition. In a sense, the trainers knew the obedience rules and examination questions well before the examination. Pet dog training is entirely different—there are no rules, the questions are unknown, and the syllabus is literally huge—comprising all aspects of a dog’s (and owner’s) behavior, temperament, and training. Moreover, most owners—just like their dogs—are novices. And they want to train their dogs as quickly and as effortlessly as possible. Certainly, pet dog training is one of the most complicated, challenging, sometimes frustrating, yet most thoroughly rewarding of endeavors. Hence the endless quest for the quickest, easiest, most enjoyable and most expedient ways to produce equipment and gizmo-free reliability.

Pet dog trainers were howling for education and professional organization. Consequently, in 1991, I started organizing six APT (the original acronym) conferences in Canada, UK and USA, (two in each country during 1993 and 1994). (The acronym APDT was first coined by Roger Abrantes and myself at the 1992 World Congress of Kennel Clubs in Bermuda during a reception at the Bacardi Rum factory.) The first APT conference was held in Toronto in May 1993. The Canadian APDT, later to be renamed the CAPPDT, Canadian Association of Professional Pet Dog Trainers, was whelped at this conference. The topic was people training and the keynote speaker was Job Michael Evans. Sadly, Job died within the year and the 1994 US Conference was dedicated to his memory.

The APDT in the United States was founded at the November 1993 APT conference in San Mateo. Seventy trainers became members. The first APDT Newsletter (now a collector’s item) was published in Spring 1994—edited and typeset by Doug Hostetter and Skooter his canine co-editor. Later that year, 307 people attended the second US APT conference in Orlando, where the APDT held its first Annual Meeting. (Perhaps this is why the Orlando APT Conference is now commonly regarded as the first APDT Conference.) The APDT held its first Annual Conference in Chicago in 1995 with 1,100 attendees. Under Kathleen Chin’s superbly efficient guidance, the conference grew in leaps and bounds and in 1999, the San Diego conference drew over 1,500 delegates from 45 states and 10 countries. The membership grew accordingly, and now the APDT is the largest and most influential association of pet dog trainers in the world.

My intention in founding the APDT was threefold: to attract and organize the largest membership possible; to provide a forum for education, networking, and governance; and to design and implement a national accreditation program for pet dog training.

In various countries around the world, other doggy professions (veterinarians and psychologists), governing bodies, and governments were making noises about controlling pet dog training and behavior counseling. I felt so strongly that pet dog trainers were much better qualified to make decisions about the direction of pet dog training. A large membership, stellar education vis a vis the applied behavioral sciences, and a stepwise accreditation program were necessary, so that the APDT could protect the livelihood of its membership.

To this day, the APDT has remained an open educational group—open to all pet dog trainers. As such, it has attracted an extremely large membership and has a powerful and influential, concerted voice. Pet dog trainers have now secured their profession. Moreover, the large membership, 4,500 and growing, has evaluated the need and established the protocols for continuing education and accreditation (to maintain quality). The APDT Annual Conference remains the largest and most comprehensive, dog behavior and training educational extravaganza worldwide (www.apdt.com). As an offshoot of the APDT Education Committee, the Certification Council for Pet Dog Trainers (CCPDT www.ccpdt.com) has established the only international pet dog trainers certification program (CPDT). By working together and staying together as a group—the APDT has literally changed the face of pet dog training.

The APDT has tirelessly promoted dog-friendly dog training techniques, comprising lures and rewards, fun and games, and woofs and wags. The APDT has made living together so much more fun for both dogs and their owners.

Ian Dunbar PhD, BVetMed, MRCVS, CPDT

Founder of the APDT

Berkeley, California, June 2006

From the President of APDT

I was waiting him out. My foster Papillon, Mika, was spastically bouncing off the sliding glass door, while my other dogs waited patiently behind him. He had only been with me for a week, rescued out of a shelter after living with an animal collector, and he acted as if he had espresso running through his veins. He had no clue how to be calm. The slightest sound, the slightest noise, launched him into the stratosphere. This time, the trigger had been my announcement it was time to go outside.

Sproing! Sproing! Sproing! He bounced. Minutes went by. I had asked him to sit, a cue which he knew, so I was waiting for him to plop his little fluffy butt on the ground before I opened the door. I was waiting him out. My three-legged Labrador Retriever, Cody, however, thought Mika needed some extra instruction.

Cody reached out with his nose, and gently pushed Mika’s rear into a sit. I opened the doors, laughing, and released the dogs out onto the porch. Aren’t dogs the best teachers?

If only dogs could pass on their knowledge to us in the written word! Since they can’t, we have gathered knowledge from the world’s leading dog trainers that has appeared in our association’s newsletter over the years to benefit future generations of dog trainers. The Dog Trainer’s Resource, APDT Chronicle of the Dog Collection is packed with useful tips, insightful articles, and the latest information on canine learning theory. Such a resource shouldn’t be lost in a backlog of a dusty archive…it’s meant to be shared. So we’ve compiled these highlights here in one place, to help rookie and veteran trainers alike better understand our canine friends.

Just as the Association of Pet Dog Trainers has grown since our inception in 1993, so has The APDT Chronicle of the Dog, from a manually copied newsletter to the full 40 professionally printed pages it is today.

Terry Long, CPDT, served as the Managing Editor from late 1999 to 2002, and deserves much credit for taking the Chronicle to new heights in professionalism. Terry now serves as a regular contributor with our On Behavior and Reviewer’s Corner columns. Nicole Wilde, CPDT, also contributes to each issue with our popular Member Profile. Thanks also to our former Submissions and Copy Editor, Judith Engstrom, for offering her talents to the mix.

Our current Managing Editor, Mychelle Blake, has worked tirelessly to deliver each issue, and the newsletter has prospered in her capable hands. Her efforts have helped us create a successful and respected publication. We consistently earn recognition as a finalist in the annual Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA) annual awards competition, and several of the Chronicle’s articles have earned DWAA Maxwell Medallions.

In this book, you will find the knowledge of many canine professional experts. Special thanks to all the authors who have contributed to our newsletter over the years—you are the reason why we’ve been so successful! Also, thanks to the APDT staff and Board of Directors for their efforts in making this book happen, along with our publisher, Dogwise, for suggesting the idea in the first place. And much appreciation goes to my fellow members of the Editorial Committee — Melissa Bussey, CPDT; Susan Smith, CPDT; and Eve Marschark, CABC, CPDT, for their hard work in shepherding each issue.

As I look at Logan, my newest lovable lab, lying at my feet while I write this, I think of all the dogs who helped shape who he is today. It is my hope that the wisdom in these pages will inspire you to become a better teacher and friend to the dogs in your life. So please enjoy…and learn…then teach.

Teoti Anderson, CPDT

APDT President 2004-2006

From the Editor

I remember my first experience of The APDT Chronicle of the Dog clearly. At the time, it was known as The APDT Newsletter. I was just like many of you who are reading this volume now—new to the field of working with dogs and unaware that there is a tremendous opportunity available for educating oneself about the profession.

I first spied a copy of The APDT Newsletter at a friend’s house who was a professional dog trainer. What’s this? A newsletter that provides dog training and behavior modification information? There is actually an organization of dog trainers that promotes education and networking? Within the pages of The APDT Newsletter, I found a goldmine of information on training and behavior modification and how to prepare oneself to not only see dog training as a hobby, but as a serious career path.

The APDT Newsletter not only sparked my quest for more knowledge about dog behavior, but gave me the tools I needed to learn how to become a serious and knowledgeable professional. APDT has been at the forefront of the movement toward greater education of the dog training community and increasing the validity and competence of dog professionals everywhere. It has also provided valuable information on such vital topics as how to set up one’s business, marketing your services to the community, establishing relationships with veterinarians, and appropriately pricing one services.

This volume you hold in your hands provides valuable information for both aspiring and experienced dog trainers, as well as those who work with dogs in doggy daycares, veterinary clinics, therapy dogs, dog sports, and more. The APDT Chronicle of the Dog has featured a variety of authors and perspectives on dog training and behavior modifications, and touches on the broad spectrum of what is involved in the working professional’s field of dog training and behavior.

Some of the featured authors in this volume include Jean Donaldson, Director of the renowned the San Francisco SPCA Academy for Dog Trainers and author of The Culture Clash, Mine! A Guide to Resource Guarding in Dogs, and Fight! A Guide to Dog-Dog Aggression; Donna Duford, author of Agility Tricks for Improved Attention, Flexibility, and Confidence and a frequent speaker at the APDT’s Annual Educational Conferences; Trish King, Director of Animal Behavior and Training at the Marin County Humane Society and author of Parenting Your Dog; Dr. Karen Overall, author of the seminal text, Clinical Behavior Medicine for Small Animals; Terry Ryan, a well-known trainer and instructor of trainers and author of several books that every trainer should have on their bookshelf, including Coaching People, Coaching Dogs, Toolbox for Remodeling Your Dog’s Behavior, and Beyond Block Heeling; shelter activist, author and speaker Sue Sternberg author of Successful Dog Adoption and Great Dog Adoptions, whose Gimme Shelter column garnered a prestigious DWAA Annual Writing Competition award, and are our most requested reprints from new and existing members; and Nicole Wilde, speaker and author of the popular books, So You Want to Be a Dog Trainer, It’s Not the Dogs, It’s the People!, and One-on-One: A Dog Trainer’s Guide to Private Lessons.

Some of my favorite highlights of the book are:

Assessment and Treatment of Resource Guarding by Jean Donaldson, should be required reading for trainers working with aggression cases;

• The Levels System: Advance-at-Your-Own-Pace Classes by Joan Guertin with Terry Ryan, featuring a unique new idea on structuring classes to best meet the needs of clients;

• Mardi Richmond’s articles Internships: Training the Trainer and Are You Searching for an Internship Program which provide valuable information on how to find a mentor, as well as become a mentor to up and coming trainers;

Assessing the Alpha Roll by Terry Ryan, an article that helped end the use of this damaging technique;

• Sue Sternberg’s heartbreaking three-part series Becoming a Shelter Dog. which follows the path of several dogs who come through a shelter’s doors— some make it out to find a new home and family, while others sadly do not.

• All of the articles by the Bailey’s, two of the most renowned animal trainers and applied behavior analysts in the world. Their wisdom and learning are vital elements for any trainer looking to understand the workings of classical and operating conditioning.

From how to run your dog training business, to working with our human clients, to modifying the behavior of fearful and aggressive dogs, The Dog Trainer’s Resource is a compendium of the many thoughts and experiences of these trainers and more. It is a must-have for any serious student of canine behavior and training, whether you are a hobbyist trainer, just entering the field of dog training, or a seasoned professional.

Dog training has certainly changed over the last decade, and each issue of The APDT Chronicle of the Dog has been for me, and I hope for all of its readers, a vehicle to educate oneself on the advances in our field. Our goal with The APDT Chronicle of the Dog has always been to provide knowledge, inspiration, and pride in our profession. I am honored to be a part of the production of this book as well as of The Chronicle, one of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers main instruments for educating my collegues. I look forward to the bright future of the APDT and The APDT Chronicle of the Dog.

Mychelle Blake, Managing Editor, The APDT Chronicle of the Dog

Puppy Training


og trainers deal with issues relating to puppy training—or the lack of puppy training—frequently. Most trainers believe that socializing puppies at the right time and using the right techniques is critical to avoiding many behavior problems as the pup gets older. How long puppies should remain with their littermates, the importance of puppy temperament tests, and when to begin training are subjects of interest and debate among dog trainers. The articles in this section review current thinking on socialization, weaning, and what some readers might find a surprising take on the effectiveness of puppy temperament tests as they are commonly administered.

The Old Fears of Puppy Socialization: Let it Go!

Pia Silvani, January/February 2004

Shall we get a puppy? I asked my husband. The empty crates are in the basement, carefree days with no concerns about open doors and missing dogs, uninterrupted restful nights, and active canine vacations, with hiking, swimming, and no leashes! Were we ready to take the plunge?

In June a little bundle of cuteness danced into our lives. She’s everything we could have hoped for—fearless, joyous, curious, and confident. Will this last? How many times have we lectured to our clients about the importance of socialization? We certainly want everlasting good spirit and glee for her.

Between the ages of 3 to 16 weeks, the average puppy will learn more than in her entire lifetime. What occurs during this critical period has an everlasting emotional and cognitive effect on the dog. What frightens me is the fact that we only had control over a certain portion of this critical socialization time. Guinn came home at seven weeks (49 days). We only had the back-end of the period to work with. We, the professionals, are the ultimate consumers: we select a good breeder, put faith in their knowledge about the proper raising of the litter, and we are careful in selecting the right pup. But what about average pet owners? Are they still picking the quiet one in the corner?


Puppies are pretty helpless for the first 12 days of their life during the neonatal period. Their eyes and ears are not yet open and their motor capabilities are limited. The majority of their time is spent nursing and sleeping, and behavior is mostly reflexive. If puppies are handled and exposed to mild environmental stressors during this period, it can have a positive impact on them in later years. Pups left undisturbed can be emotionally reactive when they reach adulthood.

Pups begin to develop their motor skills during the transitional period (12-21 days). They begin to walk unsteadily, can eat soft meals once their first teeth come in and emerge into the world with an amplified amount of social and environmental stimulation.

From 21-84 days, a puppy’s socialization period begins. It is a sensitive period in the dog’s developmental stages. This is the optimal time for them to experience and learn without being fearful.

Between three to five weeks pups go through the primary socialization stage where a great deal of learning occurs. Much of this learning establishes a foundation for behavior patterns (good and bad!) later in life. Insufficient socialization during this time can lead to hyperactivity, over-reactivity, emotional rigidity, anxiety, and more. They may have problems with separation and exhibit fear or aggression toward strangers. When separated from the litter during this period, many pups are intolerant of other dogs later in life.

The secondary socialization period (6 to 12 weeks) is the process of bonding and social conditioning within the context of the human domestic environment … (Lindsay, 2000)

As we’ve learned from the experts over the years, it is critical that puppies are provided with adequate social contact and as much exposure to as many things in the environment as possible during the socialization period. Having this knowledge can assist us in educating not only pet owners, but also other animal professionals, about the importance of developing good social contacts with pups. A pup will develop abnormally if the environment does not provide her with sufficient or adequate experience. When you see a potential problem, don’t ignore it because you don’t want to hurt the client’s feelings.

The Issue of Poor Socialization

When asked to write this article, timing could not have been more perfect, with the new addition to our family. Furthermore, I had just received the July 2004 issue of The Whole Dog Journal where Nancy Kerns interviewed Dr. Ian Dunbar on this topic. Seeing puppies entering classes at 16 weeks with problems has bothered me for some time now. I wholeheartedly concur with what Dr. Dunbar expressed.

For the past years, I’ve been observing pups that have experienced what I perceive as poor socialization. The pups were probably deprived of early environmental exposures since they appeared to have unusual deficits and/or dysfunctional behaviors. If a puppy is isolated from the world early on, she will have difficulty enjoying companionships. She may exhibit distrust or even extreme fear of any social contact and appear to have behavioral disabilities. These dogs typically will exhibit poor learning and problem-solving abilities and are unable to cope since fear or avoidance overrides all.

Research has shown us that with concentrated remedial socialization, some pups can regain some tranquility, yet they may never reach their full potential had things been handled correctly from the onset. Many of these pups are entering the households of novice pet owners who are inexperienced technicians and not educated in canine social behavior.


I asked myself three questions:

1. What should breeders be doing to make our jobs easier and give pet owners what they are looking for—a well-balanced puppy!

2. Why are we, the pet professionals, not on the same page about socialization and how can we get there? Pet owners are receiving conflicting advice from breeders, veterinarians, and trainers. Instead of helping them, we’re making their heads spin!

3. What information should breeders and veterinarians give out in every puppy packet so clients are better informed about what socialization means and signs to look for that may cause potential future problems? As we know, without taking a proactive approach, the behaviors will not go away with time and are not simply puppy behaviors.

What Breeders Can Do

Breeders are with puppies from birth giving them an opportunity to take advantage of early learning. By following some of the suggestions I’ve listed below, breeders can have an enormous impact on the future of the pups:

• At about three weeks of age, expose the pups to other friendly, healthy dogs and by five weeks, people.

• Take car trips, especially to the veterinarian’s office. The pup’s first experience with the veterinarian should not be a cold, motorized table and needle in the rump. Acclimate the pup to the motion of cars to avoid car sickness.

• Gradually expose them to different sounds starting at low levels (doorbells, vacuums, hair dryers, vehicles, horns, barking dogs, kids playing, etc.)

• Separate pups from their litter for short periods of time to help accustom them to being alone. What a shock to them after sleeping with seven siblings to then be put alone in a crate in a dark kitchen!

• Acclimate the pups to various substrates.

• Between five to eight weeks, familiarize the pup to grooming tools, ear cleaning, drinking and eating from a bowl, training with treats, wearing collars, leash walking, and much more.

• Acclimate pups to crates and ex-pens, leaving the pup with a puppy pal (soft toy to cuddle with) and proper chew toys.

• Allow pups to investigate in the yard, teaching them to walk up and down a stair or two as opposed to carrying them in and out.

• Take the pups out in the rain (they’re dogs for goodness sake!) How many pups have accidents during inclement weather?

• Work on housetraining to help get the new owner off to the right start.

Socialization Pros and Cons

Many veterinarians and breeders are recommending early socialization and including this learning program as part of their total wellness plan for pet owners. Yet many are not. How can we all be on the same page to help us reach a unified approach to socialization?

• Both research and findings from various guide dog organizations show that fewer than a half a dozen, out of hundreds of thousands of puppies, became ill before their final set of vaccinations. All other pups that were taken into public places became successful guide dogs.

• Dr. R.K. Anderson states: The risk of a dog dying because of infection with distemper or parvo disease is far less than the much higher risk of a dog dying (euthanasia) because of behavior problems. Are there risks? Yes. But ten years of good experience and data, with few exceptions, offers veterinarians the opportunity to generally recommend early socialization and training classes, beginning when puppies are eight to nine weeks of age.

• Isolating these puppies until they are 16+ weeks is detrimental to their behavioral health. Puppy classes have turned into behavior modification classes as a result.

• Purdue University Animal Behavior Clinic stresses the importance of early socialization by defining their recommendations for puppy class protocols. In their letter dated December 4, 2002, Drs. Andrew Luescher and Steve Thompson eloquently stated, Let’s welcome new puppies into our society by showing them what we expect, not dispose of them because we failed to communicate our expectations at a time when the puppies are most impressionable. A copy of this letter can be found on their Web site, www.vet.purdue.edu/animalbehavior.

Information for Puppy Packets

Veterinarians, breeders, trainers, shelters, and other animal professionals should join forces by educating pet owners about the importance of early socialization and understanding the critical development stages. Pet owners are unaware of early warning signs for potential future problems. Some suggestions might be:

• Socialization is about positive experiences.

• Define what normal vs. abnormal canine behavior is and what to expect as the puppy matures.

• Puppies that spend a lot of time hiding under furniture are not confident in their household. From what and whom are they hiding?

• Puppies that hide with their bones and toys—red flag! Is the family constantly taking things from the pup’s mouth? Has she now reached a threshold? Can the owner remove items from puppy’s mouth without being threatened?

• The puppy rarely responds to her name or other cues. Why?

• The puppy is not housetrained by five months. Are the owners not watching? What else is the puppy doing?

• The puppy does not tolerate grooming. The owner thinks the pup fools around. Is it fooling around or becoming agitated?

• Neither the veterinarian nor groomer can handle the pup.

• The puppy is not enjoying socialization class (hiding, running away, quivering). Not all puppies belong in a puppy class and may not get over it.

• The puppy is threatening while eating. To whom or what are the threats directed? Let’s not wait until a bite occurs!

• The pup has no interest in people or dogs, or avoids one more than the other.

• The pup has curled her lip, growled, snarled, or snapped at other dogs, children or adults. When and in what context?

• The pup is extremely timid when introduced to new people.

• Avoid dog parks and other areas where pups may become frightened by unsocialized adult dogs.

References and Recommended Reading

Scott, J.P. & Fuller, J.L. (1965) Genetics and the Social Behavior of the Dog. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Fox, M. (1971). Integrative Development of Brain and Behavior in the Dog. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Lindsay, S.R. (2000). Handbook of Applied Dog Behavior and Training. Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press.

Overall, K.L. (1997). Clinical Behavioral Medicine for Small Aanimals. St. Louis, MO: Mosby.

Hetts, S. (1999). Pet Behavior Protocols: What to Say, What to Do, When to Refer. Lake-wood, CO: AAHA Press.

Selling Early Socialization

Terry Long, January/February 2004

Elaine and Mark Dowell put a lot of thought into adopting their new puppy. They researched a variety of breeds, talking to breeders and owners of dogs they thought would fit their family’s lifestyle. They visited shelters and talked to adoption counselors. They planned the arrival of the new pup for when at least one of them would have more time to devote to housetraining, and they hired a pet sitter to come by at noon every day so the pup wouldn’t be alone for more than a few hours at a time. They bought a couple of baby gates, a crate, a variety of toys, and arranged their first visit with the veterinarian who had provided their previous dogs with loving care in the final days of their lives. Elaine and Mark looked forward to getting off on the right foot.

Finally, they made their choice and brought home a six-week-old puppy from a private rescue organization. She was adorable; a white German Shepherd and yellow Labrador Retriever mix, and they named her Callie. She passed their vet’s health exam with flying colors. Although looking forward to taking Callie out for walks, the Dowell’s followed their vet’s admonition not to take Callie anywhere until she was at least four months of age, when all her vaccinations would be complete. Elaine and Mark settled for introducing Callie to the friends and family members who visited on occasion.

But My Vet Said …

When they hired a trainer to start private training sessions, the Dowell’s were surprised when the trainer recommended early socialization. This was in direct contradiction to what their veterinarian had told them. The trainer said that it was imperative that they expose their pup to a variety of people and animals before the tender age of twelve weeks. The trainer felt this was especially important because of the high percentage of German Shepherd she suspected comprised Callie’s genetic heritage. In the trainer’s opinion, German Shepherds needed more than the average amount of socialization. The Dowell’s listened intently, asking questions, considering that socialization might not mean unnecessarily exposing Callie to contagious diseases. After the trainer left, they talked to their vet again who adamantly insisted that Callie remain restricted to the house. Mark and Elaine chose to follow their veterinarian’s advice.

Callie developed into a striking dog. She would eventually reach 70 pounds and the size and shape of a German Shepherd. She was a bit on the timid side, backing away from visitors, and avoiding people and dogs on their walks and in the new group obedience class they joined. At about nine months of age, after being chased by a child trying to catch her off-leash dog, Callie began displaying aggression toward people and dogs. Her aggression toward dogs included growling, lunging, and barking even when a dog was over 200 feet away. The Dowell’s were dismayed to discover that their once timid Callie now required expensive and time-consuming behavior modification. How did this happen, they wondered? Didn’t they do everything right?

The Conundrum

Many dog owners like the Dowell’s struggle to sort out conflicting information they receive from pet care professionals. It is very common for veterinarians to insist that dogs not leave their homes until close to four months of age. From a vet’s perspective, this makes eminent sense. They want to avoid exposure to contagious viruses such as distemper and parvo. Vets spend four years (or longer) in vet school focusing on the treatment of medical problems. If they are lucky, they have a semester course on animal behavior. Trainers and behaviorists, on the other hand, want to avoid many of the behavior problems they see in their practices. Their education focuses on understanding the impact of canine critical developmental stages, learning theory, and how to best prepare a dog to meet life’s psychological challenges through early training and socialization. With such diametrically opposed perspectives, it is easy to see why dog owners are torn between following their veterinarian’s advice and their trainer’s advice. Many trainers are reluctant to press their clients to ignore their veterinarian’s advice. So, what can trainers do to help dogs get adequate socialization? There are a number of strategies that work.

Working with Veterinarians

First, remember that veterinarians receive very little education about dealing with behavior problems unless they pursue advanced course work and become a boardcertified veterinary behaviorist. As a result, they are most concerned with keeping puppies from contracting deadly viruses. They are unlikely to radically change their advice simply because trainers point out potential behavior problems. Instead, they need to be convinced that protecting puppies from exposure to viruses can be accomplished—through careful planning—at the same time as a sound socialization program is implemented. The following strategies focus on starting a dialogue with veterinarians:

1. Letter From a Colleague—Dr. R. K. Anderson, the co-inventor of the Gentle Leader™ head collar, is the author of an open letter to veterinarians about the importance of early socialization. It can be downloaded from the resources section of the APDT web site (www.apdt.com), and distributed to your local vets, along with your business card and class schedule.

2. Fact Sheet—Create a one-page Socialization Fact Sheet that outlines the results of the study conducted by Scott & Fuller, as well as citations from more recent books. Veterinarians value strong evidence before changing protocols. Presenting them with solid information from boardcertified veterinary behaviorists and applied animal behaviorists may help them consider alternatives to keeping puppies at home during the critical socialization period (i.e., three to twelve weeks of age). In the Socialization Fact Sheet be sure to address how to protect puppies from high-risk situations (dog parks and other places frequented by unknown dogs), while still providing adequate socialization (puppy parties, controlled access to vaccinated dogs, etc.).

3. In-Service Programs—Offer to provide complimentary in-service educational programs for veterinary staff. Many veterinary clinics hold routine educational meetings for their staff. Offer to provide a brief presentation on a variety of subjects, including socialization. Many veterinarians still recommend outdated practices such as the alpha roll correction, dominance exercises (forcing a dog to stay on its back until it submits), etc. Providing brief educational forums can help them choose to remove this kind of advice from their client education, as well as understand the importance of early socialization.

4. Complimentary or Discounted Training—Invite veterinary staff to group classes, with or without their dogs. This will expose them to the benefits of early socialization and training.

5. Socialization Chart—Provide a one-page document that lists a variety of things puppies should be exposed to (children, adults, dogs, cats, motorcycles, skateboards, etc.). List these on the left side of the page and along the top of the page, running left to right, list the weeks, i.e., seven through twelve weeks (and beyond!). This chart can be handed out to their clients, along with the Socialization Fact Sheet described above.

6. Protocol for Pup’s Veterinary Exams—Provide information about how a puppy’s first veterinary visits can be made more of a positive experience. Dr. Lore Haug (College Station, Texas) wrote an excellent article on this topic in the APDT Newsletter (May/June 2000). Veterinarians may also contact Dr. Rolan Tripp (La Mirada, California), a veterinarian with a special interest in behavior, for information about how to establish clinic protocols that optimize a puppy’s early experiences.

7. Veterinary-Sponsored Puppy Parties—Offer to hold puppy parties/classes at your veterinarian’s clinic. This can provide a location that veterinarians are more comfortable with for young puppies, and can also have the beneficial value of providing the veterinarian a value-added service for his/her clientele.

Community Outreach

The following strategies focus on public education.

1. Shelter education—Training demonstrations can be offered at many local shelters, giving trainers the opportunity to educate the public, as well as shelter volunteers/ staff, about the importance of early socialization.

2. Public demonstrations/fund raisers—Many trainers are asked to participate in fundraisers for nonprofit organizations. This is a great opportunity to provide live training demonstrations, while also getting out the word about early socialization.

3. Community Forums—Develop a community outreach program that

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