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Oh, Behave! Puppy and Kitten Socialization

A tip from board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. Julie Albright, University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine's PetSafe Chair in Small Animal Behavioral Research

                             Dr. Julie Albright, DACVB and University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine PetSafe Chair in Small Animal Behavior Research 

(May 13, 2014   Knoxville, TN)   Are you thinking about getting a new puppy or kitten?  Early development and careful exposure to the world is critical in helping prevent serious future behavior problems like anxiety and aggression.  The socialization period, or time when our pet's brains are most open to learning about new things in the world, occurs at about 4-14 weeks of age for puppies and 2-7 weeks for cats.  Animals that are not exposed to people (or certain populations of people like children), places, noises, and other animals may become very fearful and fearfully aggressive towards these people and objects as they get older.  

Make a special effort to expose your puppy to gentle adult dogs, children, people in uniforms, traffic, indoor noises like the vacuum, handling of its body, and maybe even different species of animals before that sensitive developmental window closes around 4 months of age.  Be sure that your puppy has at least one round of vaccinations and enroll in a training class that does not use aversive equipment like chains or choke collars.  The dog park is not a good place for puppies.  Things that hurt or frighten your young pet during this time can have a lasting impact.  Take along lots of small pieces of treats when you venture out into the world to help your puppy associate new things with the reward.  

Still have questions?  The University of Tennessee Veterinary Medical Center wants to help you and your new pet get off to a great start by providing new pet adoption sessions through the Behavior Service.   Visit our website for more information.




Posted: 05-13-14 Viewed: 94115 times

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Sandra Harbison
College of Veterinary Medicine
University of Tennessee
2407 River Drive
Knoxville, TN 37996

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