Who doesn’t love adorable bundles of frolicking fur? They are almost completely irresistible. So much so that sometimes people adopt a small puppy due to the cuteness factor that overrides logical thinking.
Raising a well-adjusted puppy into a well-mannered dog is more than cuddles and face licks! Early socialization and training is required. At the Olympic Peninsula Humane Society (OPHS), many dogs are surrendered due to inadequate training and socialization. They show fear to different people, dogs and even ordinary noises or objects. Fear is the leading cause of aggression.
And often, alleviating embedded fear responses can take months and is not always successful. Starting socialization very early on is important.
Enter Marsha, a pregnant dog surrendered to OPHS at 45 days gestation. Marsha was anxious and jittery moms deliver stressed puppies. Luckily, Marsha was very sweet and accepted the love and attention that volunteers and staff bestowed. OPHS gave her a big room of her own away from other dogs.
A few weeks later, five adorable bundles of joy joined the world.
After 12 weeks of age, dogs no longer respond to novelty with open enthusiasm. Instead, fear takes a front seat. OPHS took advantage of this time to implement leading puppy raising practices to help the newborns grow into confident dogs.
Pups were presented with novel textures and scents such as a faux sheepskin rug and a toy used with the cats in Kitty City. With a goal of making the puppy’s world as large as possible, puppies were introduced all around OPHS. Visiting rooms with lots of noise and activities such as phones ringing and various people coming and going was on the agenda. Even babies and children were part of their world-broadening experience.
Dropping a food dish nearby allowed puppies to recover smoothly from being startled. Food was put behind a screen to introduce a little frustration and confidence-building when successfully navigated. People handling the puppies gave them a quick walk-through in Kitty City to allow them to get used to the scent and meows of those “other” four-legged creatures.
When they got a little older, they were introduced to a crate to sleep in and even a little leash walking throughout the offices and around the outdoor walking trails. We are confident these extra measures helped produce an excellent foundation.
The rest of their ongoing training is in the hands of their new owners as these pups were adopted quickly.
OPHS is fortunate to have a very devoted certified dog trainer, Monica Roberts, who volunteers her expertise a minimum of three times a week to work with the animals. She develops our very comprehensive training program for staff and volunteers to ensure the animals are properly socialized as much as possible.
Each volunteer now completes six hours of hands-on training with Monica before they work with the OPHS dogs. Having everyone follow the same training protocols is essential for consistency so every dog has the opportunity to make great strides and live happily ever after.
Besides proper food and exercise, training and proper socialization are necessary components for helping your dog become a well-adjusted member of your household. And of course, lots of love ensures you receive those face licks … forever.
Luanne Hinkle has been the Executive Director of Olympic Peninsula Humane Society (OPHS) since December 2017 and has more than a decade of experience in executive-level positions leading major fundraising and program development efforts in the nonprofit arena. See ophumanesociety.org.