Puppies First Impressions

When you bring your puppy home, you want to raise him or her to be the best Family Dog possible.  We all have good intentions when raising a puppy, however there are some mis-guided and uneducated people who will tell you that you need to dominate your dog so they respect you.  This is not only poor advice, once it is done, you may not be able to take it back.

I am bonding these small pups to human contact.

Imprinting is life long and can not be overcome; Dr. Konrad Lorenz first studied imprinting in birds, primarily geese in 1935, so this concept is not new.  What he found was that different species of animals have an early/critical period in their learning development which cannot be reverse

In addition, Evolutionary Biologist Kathryn Lord at the University of Massachusetts Amerst suggests that different behaviors are related to the animal’s earliest sensory experiences during the critical period of socialization.  This critical period in dogs is from 4 weeks to about 8 weeks; during this critical time, puppies begin walking and exploring without fear and will remain comfortable throughout their lives with environmental stimuli they encounter during this time with low levels of fear.  But as the period ends at 8 to 10 weeks, fear will increase and after the socialization window closes, new sights, sounds and smells will elicit a fear response.  

Imprinting establishes an individual animals preference for a certain species.  Hence, if a puppy in its later stages of his critical period is subjected to a traumatic event such as rough handling by its breeder, vet, or trainer, it may result in a defensive attack or behavior pattern when the animal is touched in a certain way — even a year or more later in the dogs life.
Helping puppies associate hands as being gentle is crucial for a soft mouth
Helping puppies associate hands as being gentle is
crucial for a soft mouth

Common to trainers is the puppy that is fine with Dad, but bites hard at mom or the children in the home.  This scenario is all too common when Dad has used his hands to reprimand the pup in a forceful way for biting (which is a normal way for a pup to interact).  While the pup does obviously require feedback on what to sink his teeth into, too often Dad holds the pups mouth shut, pushes his lip onto a tooth, scruffs the pup or holds him down.  All of these actions will make this puppy bite others in the family more often and with greater force.  Another negative side effect is the 10 month old puppy who cannot sit still for petting.  He is too nervous and worried to just sit, so he wiggles and wiggles his body in an “over the top” appeasement behavior pattern, all the while turning his butt towards the person and lowers his head to ward off the scary behavior which he had to endure as a young pup.
Now that you know how important First Impressions are to your puppy, always be a Positive influence in your puppies life.  Not only for the well being of your puppy, but for those who may be learning from your example also.