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Pet Owners Aren’t Adequately Socializing Their Puppies, New Study Finds

A significant number of pet owners fail to adequately socialize their puppies, putting these dogs at risk of developing behavioural problems down the road, say U of G researchers.

A new study from professors Jason Coe and Lee Niel and post-doc Janet Cutler at the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College, found one-third of pet owners surveyed failed to expose their puppies to enough social stimuli, including people and animals, during the first few months of the dogs’ lives. 

“This is concerning because it means a significant proportion of pet owners are missing the small window between two and 14 weeks where socialization is such a crucial piece in the behavioural development of dogs,” said Coe. “It’s a limited opportunity where pet owners can have such an influence on a puppy’s life and increase the likelihood of preventing the behaviours that can result in these animals being returned to shelters.”

Published recently in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the study surveyed almost 300 pet owners both shortly after they acquired a puppy and when the dog was 20 weeks old.

The researchers found one-third of pet owners provided their puppies with minimal socialization opportunities.

Minimal exposure was defined as providing interaction outside the home with other dogs fewer than five times every two weeks, and with people fewer than 10 times in that period, said Cutler.

More information on how to prepare for pet ownership can be found at www.beforeyougetapet.com

Read the entire article on the University of Guelph website

(Photo: iStock.com/ ozgurdonmaz)