Ian here with Simpawtico Dog Training. Now we just released our video on early puppy socialization and in that video we
featured excerpts from an interview with Dr. Mike Brennan and Dr. Katheryn
Hughes at Lake Road Animal Hospital and Kennels in Elmira, New York. Our entire
conversation though ended up being so damn good that I thought it would be
useful for you to be able to see it if you're interested.
As usual we'll have notes, links, and resources in the description about the
stuff we talked about.
There are also timestamps if you'd like
to skip to the parts that are more relevant to you, but the whole thing is definitely
worth a watch in my opinion. I hope you enjoy it and find something helpful.
Hello I'm Dr. Mike Brennan. I'm the medical director and owner of Lake Road
Animal Hospital. Kathy Hughes, veterinarian. Been here for 20, many years. Been a
veterinarian for longer than most people here have been alive. Most. [laughing] So as I said we're focusing on early socialization. I know you and I had
talked before about that briefly. And so what I'm finding is that there's
still, there's still kind of a black hole between 12 and 16 weeks.
Well between 12
and 16 weeks developmentally I know is a really super critical period as far as
socialization goes and I still see a lot of puppy owners sequestering their dogs
during that period mainly due to vaccinations and
other recommendations that they've either read online or gotten from their vets. So
what is your view on that? Yeah you know, I think in general veterinary medicine…
go back 20, 30 years and I think the recommendations were wait till they're
fully vaccinated. Fully vaccinated about four months of age. I think though I mean
certainly the behavior community and, I think most veterinarians have changed
that thought just because of your point. Our socialization in our puppies starts
probably six, seven weeks of age, and it is really shutting down at 14
weeks of age. So if we're waiting till then we're really missing an opportunity
to create confident, well-developed, well behaved animals.
And they do go through multiple local fair periods not just during that time
but also you know through into you know adolescence and even early adulthood. And
so if you're if you're working hard to get your dog out and about around new
people, around other dogs, that sort of thing from the very beginning, even if
you catch them… you know someday where they're having a really bad day it's not
like "Oh forget it I'm just going to do this anymore, we're all done." It's just
you know part of the process and it's: okay you know we'll come back and do the
same thing the next day, or the next time and you might have completely different
But I also tell people you know I have people coming you know "The
breeder told me, you know, that this puppy can't go see any other dogs until it's
you know four months old" or whatever it's like that's that's just really
wrong. And you know as long as your dog has got a half-decent immune system and
the vaccines are given appropriately and at the right time you need to get them
out and you need to get them around people, other dogs, strange places,
every place you can think of to go and every other
place you can think of to go.
Sure right right so at least right now I agree. Jesus we can just stop right there. Great! Perfect! Yeah I think we have a common
belief on and what is good practice because they, I mean that's a reality,
infectious disease. This is their most vulnerable time. So you do have to look
at that but I think what our policy has been for twenty years probably now, and I
think the progressive veterinary community is the same, is we want our
puppies to have their initial veterinary exam, we want them to have their initial
vaccines, be dewormed, fecal exams, and we want every puppy there going into class
with to have that, and then my opinion is get them together as soon as possible. And I commonly hear people say you know like "Oh he's around a lot
of other dogs…my brother has two dogs and they come over to play all the time,"
or you know, "my mother-in-law…
We take them over to my mother-in-law's."
It's like, well good they're well socialized to one family and two dogs.
That's not gonna cut it in in real life, you know? And it's really hard to get
that concept through to some owners and it doesn't matter if they have a
purebred dog, or a mixed breed dog, or they got it from the shelter or whatever.
There's I think it's it's hard to get people to grasp that concept of how
important it is to get them off the property—strange places, strange people. Thank you so much for saying that because I feel like I have that conversation all the time, all the time. and I ask, I'm like, "Okay what is your
socialization regimen been? I mean how many other dogs and people has your
dog played with?" "Oh well we have another dog." I'm like…
Or my neighbor has a dog.
Right, yeah, "My sister has a dog, they run the fence together…." Right and that's just not…
Yeah it's a big crazy world we live in. Right. I feel like as a
behavioral consultant you know I I'm called into people's homes or they come
see me at the studio and they have you know a laundry list of behavior
problems and in my mind I feel like many of those can be traced back to under
socialization. I mean obviously between then and now there's other extenuating
circumstances that may, you know, exacerbate certain behavior problems, but
I feel like that's the root cause right there. And it's troubling to me
because I feel like those things are all predictable and preventable. Yeah it's a shame. It's discouraging! I think that's accurate. I think probably 90% of our behavioral issues are issues
that could have been prevented with good socialization, good training, just some
structure growing up. Look back on the record and you can see you know "I have this dog
is you know anxious, he's fearful." You know it's really important to socialize
them, discuss it, the next puppy visit the same thing, and then the dog comes in
to see us at you know a year of age and now it's big and it's terrified and it
either has to be muzzled or sedated or it can't come in unless it's drugged, and you
know I think gosh, I talked to these people time and time and time again about
doing the things that could have prevented this and look where we are.
And that's that's discouraging to me because you know I I don't want
people's pets to be terrified of anything, especially people like us.
this because we love animals. Right. And then I feel like that's a
detrimental effect on that animal's quality of life. I mean you
know that's like being afraid of the world is no fun. So one thing that I've tried to explain to people, and I'm interested in
your professional opinion, is I've said too that socialization doesn't always
have to be toe to toe or nose to nose.
Sometimes it's just having a good
experience in proximity to new things. So I've recommended for… so for example I am NOT a big fan of dog parks but I said go to the… I'm guessing they're not either!
But I said go to the dog park and stand outside of it you know
and just say like, "Hey look at all the dogs over there playing. You and I are
gonna have lunch together right here." Give them lots of treats.
Right! You know some of that great classical conditioning. Just something great is
happening in proximity of this thing. Or delivery vans, or parking lots, or farmers
markets. You know you don't have to wade through it. Schoolyards. Schoolyards, oh my gosh yes! There's a lot of places now that are dog
friendly like I routinely will take my dogs into Home Depot or Lowe's and then just walk
around and do basic obedience there so they're you know they're in a weird
place but they're in their familiar, they're trusting me to give them the
cues that they need to you know do what they need to do.
And you know even some
of the you know other stores and you can go in with dogs as long as your dogs not mean. This is super. So with my classes, my
puppy classes, my policy has been like you said. Everybody has to come in with
at least they're their second round given a week before just to make sure
that there's no you know wacky reactions or anything, and we keep the place pretty
clean, and I know we've talked about that that's pretty safe for them. But I have
also recommended, you tell me if you think this is wrong, that if you are
around other vaccinated dogs you're probably going to be okay. I recommend
that they carry the dog through parking lots because parking lots are filthy, but
if you get into a clean environment after that then it's usually okay to
noodle around and explore a little bit. what do you think about that? I think that's… I think that's excellent advice. I generally tell people you know that
sort of thing that if you can get into a puppy class that's great.
Have at least
you know two vaccines preferably though you know not just one it like six weeks
and you know seven weeks of age but some of the puppies that come out of puppy
stores they have interesting vaccines. I'm not sure what the standards are they're reading but…. And the same thing you know
they can they can walk on the ground but try to keep them out of areas
where there's a lot of contamination.
If they're around other puppies that are
safe—puppies and vaccinated, sure. Let 'em you know bug get started with that and
explore and chew on things and do all the things that puppies do. So along those lines actually and again
I'm really interested in your feedback, here is… General public places. So
meeting grounds with the parks and those sorts of things…what I said about their
first round of shots, that's not what I'm talking about.
about a structured environment that you're gonna provide right and you're
sure everyone else has had their shots. Going out to the parks and into
general public I like to see at least they're 12 week. The 12 week vaccine
is probably the most important vaccine our pets are gonna get. Most dogs are
going to convert at that point so after that vaccine I'm more comfortable with
them getting a little more worldly. Okay so that goes right into what I was gonna ask. So in regards to potty training again some pushback or questions I guess
I should say from clients and students is, "Well I'm having trouble potty
training my puppy cuz I can't take them into my yard," and so my stance has been
well if you have a fenced yard and other animals don't go traipsing through it,
it's probably okay. If you have only public property well then maybe rethink
it a little bit you know but from what I've been hearing after the 12-week
vaccine then it should probably be okay.
Oh if it's your own yard that's immediate. I don't have any problem at all you know I mean it's different if they
live in an apartment complex and there's a million dogs…yeah
that's probably not the best place to take your newly vaccinated puppy or unvaccinated puppy, but yeah if you've got you know your own home in your own
yard and you know that sort of a thing then there's not access of stray animals
or diseased animals to that they should start taking them out five minutes after they get 'em home. From day one. And lose the puppy pads! What the hell? You've got a freaking great dane! You're gonna put it on a puppy pad? No! Doesn't make any sense! Okay you know that's funny that you said
that because in the video that I just published last week I said that
exact thing, I said "ditch the pads" thank you! Why train them to go in the house? And then try to train them to go outside.
Get a cat or a goldfish. If they're
gonna be an apartment dweller in New York on the hundredth floor, yeah.Or over there in the senior complex. Yeah and their little dogs are litter trained. For most dogs though, no. I mentioned too behaviorally I know that dogs form a substrate preference you know on the
surface and want to go and so on I'm like get that dialed in. If you have grass outside
like get them going on grass, you know? I mean if you train on pads then they
just prefer to go on pads and when you get rid of the pads then they're gonna
start hitting doormats and area rugs. Right. My previous golden retriever I got
him in February so he learned to go outside in the snow and then of course
the snow went away eventually and he would go to whatever snow he
could find to eliminate and this is snow got smaller and smaller and he was like trying to go on this little tiny patch.
And it's like it's all right buddy you can use the grass. And it got smaller and smaller. One last mound, very yellow. That's hilarious. I can't be the only one that got that look.
no I got it too. We digress! That's funny. Um so is there anything else? I mean that really covered the big bullet
points I had in my head. Was there anything else that you felt like was
important to mention about early socialization or puppies in general? Or I
mean heck we're here with the cameras rolling anything, period? I think something that comes out of my mouth all the time, Ashlee could attest to that,
is people don't give their pets enough exercise. I think so many behavior problems can be solved by increasing the amount of
exercise. So physical and mental stimulation. And if I can get people to
start that from the very babyhood on I think it makes stuff so much happier – I
didn't have that kind of you know have so much more enjoyable to deal with yeah
you know that's the good dog, or "a tired dog is a good dog." Yeah it's true.
But just I think people you know people often
they've got this wonderful Labrador and it's 12 years old and all it's done is snooze
on the couch for the last three years and poor thing you know it's time for it
to pass in it passes.
And then they get a labrador puppy and they're like
completely frustrated by this puppy because it, it's busy and they don't know
what to do with a busy dog! It's like you know perpetual motion. Yeah I think that's important for folks to realize you know and that information
could certainly be a part of not just some veterinarians but anybody that kind
of comes into contact with people, like you! Oh my goodness, I preach that gospel all the time. "He runs around in the backyard." That's not enough! Well and unsupervised like just
boot 'em about the door and then I mean that's boring, you know?
That's like getting on a treadmill and staring at the corner. And potentially
dangerous because he's bored so he's gonna eat trees and sticks and mulch and
rocks and dig giant craters in your backyard…. Right, yeah yeah yeah. Well the work I do at the SPCA—I'm their behavior and training manager…
That's awesome. …and that's a lot of what we do there is just the enrichment piece is
just like let's get some physical and let's get some mental. We're gonna go in
the activity pen, I'm gonna show you a few things, I'm gonna have you doing
things, we're gonna play some structured games, you know? And and works, it works. You're doing nose work right? That's a marvelous thing to start your dogs on. You don't I mean you don't need any
structures with that it's like that's what they do naturally and if you can
channel that and focus that they love it.
Boy talk about mental
stimulation. Oh man yeah they're exhausted after that! I'm doing that with Judy, we've been doing some nosework stuff, and I track with my
dogs too so…and they're just [snores] I mean I know that um you
know the scent processing center is the biggest part of the brain,
it's 40 times larger than it is in ours, I mean so when they start doing that
stuff their brain lights up like a Christmas tree. And it doesn't take any effort on the humans' part to do it. It's
really doesn't. You put a couple boxes with some birch in it and let them have at it. Right, and it's totally dog directed. Yeah you know they just gravitate.
Good stuff. yeah super thank you yeah good, good. Anything else guys? Even dog stuff. I think the puppy stuff is like like you brought up…
it's just so so so importan. That this is your chance to develop this awesome
relationship hopefully for a long time that is going to be treasured and they
have a great life, but there's that period that people have to realize it's
what you put into it is what you get out of it so you know if you just bring them
in the house and close them up and let them do whatever they want to do and
they have no structure, they don't know what's expected of them,
that's not happy.
That's not a happy dog. They they need direction just like a
child does. So I really stress to folks all right we got this 8 week old pup, and
it's really gonna be the next six months that are gonna mold what he or she
becomes and that's really up to you. So if you put this time in its
gonna get paid back so many times. Otherwise you're gonna have a house mate
that's a pain in your neck. And it's not really that happy! Right, right. I think gosh I I feel like one of the most frustrating things I get is people
that say like "Hey I need some help with my puppy." Okay
what's going on? "Well you know he's just wants to bite everything, he makes a
lot of noise, he potties everywhere, and he just
kind of seems like he's hyperactive and really busy all the time." And I feel like that's a puppy! I mean you know
that's like that's like having a newborn baby and then being frustrated that it's
pooping its pants.
Right, crying at night. Right those are the people that had that ancient
Labrador! Yeah! drives me bananas. But if their solution is to
kennel them up and isolate them out and then it just gets worse. Right. You
just yeah you're trying to put out a fire with gasoline. Yeah exactly. Very troublesome. I think one of my goals is really to just
educate as much as I can and just try as much in my own little world you know to
turn that around as much as possible and try to get as much… You're not gonna reach everyone. But you will affect some. Yeah and with your digital media maybe
more than you realize. Hope so, I hope so. Anything else we need to throw on the
heap? We have all kinds of links on the website and then we used to do
it puppy kits but we stopped trying to bundle this world of knowledge in a
little box. We're trying to go paperless. People I think are more interactive. They're more interested in the website than they are with 57 brochure and a bag of food in a box.
I feel like they don't read them all, especially
when they come back for their second one and they have no idea like what we just
talked about. Yeah. Very good. Well great hey thank you so much for your time I really appreciate it. Keep up the good work, Ian! I really appreciate your time and your insights and just your
professional perspective and you both been at the game for a long time and
thanks thanks for sitting down with me appreciate it. Oh it's our pleasure we're
happy to have you around. I feel good I have someone I can trust this and send clients too.
Thank you! Alright guys. Don't forget to thumbs up this video and as
always keep learning, keep practicing, and we'lll see you again soon. Thanks for