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Vets Huge Focus On Socialisation


DakotasDad
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We got Dakota at 6 weeks, the breeder said it was better for her, seeing as she is eating perfectly fine and now needs socialising sooner rather than later. So we took Dakota earlier than we were expecting as we had no reason to disbelieve a breeder, plus we'd read a lot about the importance of socialisation, so it made sense. However reading around the internet, almost everybody, everywhere frowned at such a decision. I felt bad, worried and a little peed off at the breeder. However Dakota was settled within a day and she's the happiest, most relaxed pup I have ever had. She sleeps on her back with her legs spread out.

 

Yesterday we took her to the vet for her first set of vaccinations and told the vet we'd already had her for a week and we realise we made an uneducated mistake. He smiled and said no, actually, I think that's great, as long as she's eating independently then it's better for her to get early socialisation, than it is to have an extra 2 weeks with lack of attention due to the fact there are 6 other pups to be taken care of. He said the true irresponsible breeders are those who hang on to their pups for 12 weeks, waiting to see if any of them are show quality. He said those pups then miss weeks and weeks of highly important socialisation and often end up with behavioural problems. He wants us to have Dakota enrolled in a puppy class by 11 weeks.

 

Another piece of advice that shocked me was; he encouraged us to take Dakota to the beach, to walk on the sand, hear the sea, seagulls, meet as many people as humanly possible of all ages and races. He did say to keep her away from public footpaths, other dogs unless we are sure they're up to date with their jabs etc. 

 

But his overall message was that moddycoddling dogs, keeping them indoors and away from experiences until they're 12 weeks old, is far more damaging than any risk of picking up disease. He said significantly more dogs end up in shelters and being put to sleep due to behavioural problems stemming from lack of early socialisation, than pups dying from disease. He said that as long as we're really mindful where we take her, don't let her sniff other dogs or dog faeces etc, public footpaths etc, she will be fine. 

 

After weeks of reading books, articles online etc, we had already decided that Dakota was going to be heavily socialised from the start. I want her to experience everything from the hoover to trucks, sun to rain, people of all ages and races etc. I guess the differing view of our vet was to let her walk on the sand. I'm not sure what is unique about the beach, on the sand specifically, but he felt it was a good idea.

 

Any ideas what is unique about the sand? Maybe the fact the sand is always freely moving and therefore difficult for it to become soiled? I will ask him next time we take her in.

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I am actually quite shocked that your vet said this to you.  I can see where your vet was trying to go with this as yes, he's right that socialisation is a very important thing. And it's better to do it younger rather than later but there's a limit to how young!  

 

The reason pups are not recommended to leave their mother before 8 weeks is because these last couple of weeks is where good behaviours and social skills are taught from their mum and siblings, without this you will likely end up with a pup who has limited social skills and poor bite inhibition. 

 

I've not heard of sand being unable to carry germs but there's a lot I don't know so maybe this is one of them?  lol.   To say that illnesses are of less concern than being properly socialised is really a dangerous statement.  Think of it this way (and I'm sure you have already) if your tiny pup comes into contact with the deadly parvo or distemper virus without being vaccinated, then there's a good chance this could kill them.  How could that be the better option?

 

To be honest Paul, from what you've said it sounds like you were better off  before and following your own advice.  I personally got the impression that your instincts are pretty good. :)

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I had a feeling that his advice was going to be controversial haha. FWIW, we did take her to one of the highest rated vets in Bournemouth and were seen by the owner.

 

The thing I am trying to keep in mind, is that we as a species are always learning and our methods of doing things adapt as we learn. Remember when we were taught to rub our dogs faces in pee, shout at them and throw them outside? 

 

I also spoke to a friend earlier, who said his vet had also advised him to take his pup to the beach but only after high-tide had recently receded. So maybe there is something unique about the beach? I don't know? Maybe some vets are just less cautious.

 

Prior to the vets visit, I was bleaching the patio area Dakota uses for the bathroom, every single day, as I was so paranoid about parvo etc. Now I'm a little more relaxed and less stressed about these diseases, ut not to the point where I'd put her at risk, I just feel less paranoid. 

 

I will continue to take her anywhere and everywhere but avoid putting her on the floor until she's fully vaccinated. 

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"He said those pups then miss weeks and weeks of highly important socialisation and often end up with behavioural problems."

 

What a twit. I'd look for a new vet. There's a lot of research out there that shows behavior problems to be more common in pups taken early.

 

A good breeder does provide that socialization to the pups, while they learn vital canine social skills and manners from the mother and litter. 

 

I suspect your vet is assuming that because of the tide, the sand is always clean. Unfortunately the ocean is just plain nasty. Lots of bacteria and other things. As a kid I once brought home a bottle of sand from the beach, two days later, I had maggots and sand in a jar.

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wow a VET said this to you!? 

 

i agree with getting your puppy out n about to hear new sounds etc but i would carry her around rather then let her walk - specially as she hasnt had all her jabs 

 

we didnt get my girl til 14 weeks old and she to be fair is a perfect obedient well behaved dog , the only reason she has socialisation issues is because she has been attacked 

 

dogs who stay longer with their parents actually learn important lessons and life skills , such as nipping etc (Blaze who we got at 7 1/2 weeks old was a nipper , Skyla who we got at 14 weeks old didnt nip at all) 

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I'm with Emma, puppies need to learn from their mothers first, then from us. In my opinion 6 weeks is too soon, we got our 2nd at 7 weeks because we already had a husky at home. 

 

As for jabs etc, we were told to wait 7 days after 2nd set of jabs, but could take them outside and carry them to get them used to smells and noises etc

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What a twit. I'd look for a new vet. There's a lot of research out there that shows behavior problems to be more common in pups taken early.

 

 

 
I couldn't find any conclusive evidence of this. But I found it was very much inconclusive and very much 1+1=3 kind of stuff. Plus I think the homes that these pups then go to, has a massive impact on the outcome.
 

 

dogs who stay longer with their parents actually learn important lessons and life skills , such as nipping etc (Blaze who we got at 7 1/2 weeks old was a nipper , Skyla who we got at 14 weeks old didnt nip at all) 

 

 

 
Jack, my old english who come from a very reputable breeder, who we got at 9 weeks old was a nipper but as a responsible owner, I soon put a stop to that (still got a tiny scar on my nose from his early puppy days). 
 
But all said and done, when we don't truly know, I think 8 weeks is probably a good, balanced time to take a pup. If Dakota had pups, I'd opt for 8 weeks myself.
 
However, the vets main point was not to worry that we got Dakota at 6 weeks, because she's well behaved, healthy, eating, happy, etc. And that we should be more concerned had the breeder made us wait until she was 12 weeks old. No doubt my interpretation of what the vet said, was actually worse than what he really said. 
 
As for jabs etc, we were told to wait 7 days after 2nd set of jabs, but could take them outside and carry them to get them used to smells and noises etc

 

 
That's what my vet said, 7 days after her 2nd set of jabs we can take her out properly and meet other dogs. For now to carry her around getting accustomed to new situations but he felt she'd benefit greatly from running on the beach. The last bit of advice, I am probably too paranoid to take. 
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When we rescued Bear she was guessed by battersea to be no more than 12 weeks old.  She'd had zero socialisation with anything other than dogs, couldn't work out what people were for and was consequently afraid  or confused by everything.  Some of the fear was due to her being thrown out of the back of a van (she was petrified of loud vehicles and particulary vans) but most of it was just not being used to what things were.  It took a little while but she did get used to things pretty quickly, in short she adapted well to the situations she was presented with.  At that age they are still quite young and flexible, but if she had come to me significantly later, like when she was an adult, then she may of found it tougher to adjust.

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Doesn't the socialisation window close at 12 weeks? How is that not therefore a concern?

If you are a breeder and you truly have the time to individually socialise each of you 6-10 pups, then that's ok I guess, but I'd guess that more breeders wouldn't give the pup nearly the level of socialisation as we could give our new pup. Especially as every spare second in our lives right now is devoted to Dakota.

I guess though it's the breeders decision. I'd just hope those holding on to pups for 12 weeks, just incase there's a superstar in the mix, are being responsible and properly socialising the dogs during this period and not just selfishly holding on to them.

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I can't speak for other people but from what I know  of socialisation it's the whole of the first year of a dog's life that is the milestone for what kind of dog they will become in the future.  The first 12 weeks is when they're most likely to meet new things willingly and without fear.  Sometime after this they tend to become more wary when faced with the unknown. This doens't mean that they won't accept new things after 12 weeks old because they can and do all life long. :)  

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socialization is a constant on-going part of a dogs life , not just up until they are 12 weeks old and then 'no longer having to worry about socializing them' 

its not like you can go 'oh i socialized my dog from 6 weeks to 12 so they are now never going to have an issue with anything!' (not saying u will just an example) it just doesn't work like that

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Of course socialisation is for the entirety of the dogs life. But every single book I've read and I've only read the ones from top dog trainers and breeders, hammers home the importance of that 12 week window.

Bad experiences dogs have at a very young age, often stay with them for the rest of their lives and that leads me to believe these experts are right about the importance of these first 12 weeks. But that is therefore also true of the importance of learning how to read other dogs etc.

I think we agree on most points, and I think taking of the dog too early or too late, is very subjective and both cases can work well or not, depending on the breeders and new owners.

I guess if Dakota had left her mum at 6 weeks and gone to a home where she didn't get the love and education she needs, she could well grow in to an unhappy dog. But then I guess the same is true is she was taken at 12 weeks. I guess the point is, it's not black and white.

I will move mountains to ensure Dakota has the absolute best life possible and ensure that taking her at 6 weeks doesn't have any negative bearing on her life.

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Here's the thing - if you are getting a puppy from a breeder who is willing to sell their puppies at 6 weeks, you are probably dealing with a less than reputable person to begin with. Someone who ignores all of the literature on when it is proper to separate a puppy from its mother and litter-mates probably doesn't give two craps about whether or not the dam and sire are health/hip/eye checked, or whether a puppy is being properly cared for and socialized prior to being sold. You're dealing with someone who can't be bothered to properly care for and socialize their puppies for an extra 2-3 weeks. They are simply using their dogs as a way to make money. We do NOT need to encourage people to purchase from this type of breeder, so to be honest, your vet is not only giving bad advice, he is giving DANGEROUS advice that is damaging to the breed and that will, in fact, result in more backyard breeders that don't breed to standard, and more health issues in general for the breed. I am amazed that he would encourage that type of behavior.

 

Also, I can understand wanting to feel "justified" in the way you purchased your puppy, and wanting to alleviate some of the guilt one may feel for having possibly done something that was not in the best interest of the animal they love. I got my dog from someone who at the time seemed to be honest and sincere about her being from an accidental breeding. But the more I've thought about it, the more I feel like I was fed a line. I made a mistake. I can't undo it now, but by educating myself about the risks of purchasing from a non-reputable breeder, I know what not to do the next time around. It's okay to admit that we sometimes didn't do things the right way to start out with. That's how we learn.

Edited by Chula
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That's a whole bunch of unfair assumptions about the breeder.

In actual fact, both the parents were hip and joint scored and cleared of any health issues. Dakota is KC registered.

Could it not be a case that from her personal experience, the pups that are eating well etc, benefit from joining their new families earlier? I'm not saying she's definitely right, but I'm saying you made a ton of unfair assumptions.

The breeder asked us a ton of questions to ensure a husky was definitely the right dog for us. She has also been absolutely brilliant answering any questions we've had and asked for constant updates on her progress.

Apologies if I seem defensive, but I'm a little frustrated by the assumptions. I certainly don't consider the breeder to not be reputable because of this. I think she just has a controversial belief. As to what I believe, I really don't know, other than I am certain it's not black and white.

All that matters now, is moving forward and ensuring Dakota has a great, balanced life.

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In general, I would say my assumptions are not unfair. You may have found a unique breeder who does proper CERF and hip testing, has done proper care and socialization, and is still willing to sell their pups at 6 weeks. I hope for your pup's sake that is the case. I would wager a lot on that not being the case for most breeders that sell their dogs that early. In fact, it's actually illegal in many parts of the united states to sell a puppy that early.

 

That said, mine could be KC registered too. She's definitely not without some pretty serious flaws. It doesn't seem to mean much anymore.

 

I am sure that you will give your dog the best life you can. I still do not agree with a vet encouraging people to buy puppies that early. Too many risks. I am sorry if I have offended you. We will just have to agree to disagree. 

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We specifically sought out a KC registered breeder and paid 3x the price compared to how much Huskies go for on Gumtree for example, for the very reason we wanted both parents to have low hip scores and be cleared of health issues. I realise there are no guarantees but we felt it was worth the extra cost, to limit the potential health issues later in life.

I'm just creating a more balanced picture, that I'm not some idiot who willy nilly decided to buy a husky because they're cute and jumped at the first one we found. I know nobody has suggested that, but I'd guess that's what many of you are thinking.

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Hi Chula, not offended me and I appreciate your input. I just felt the picture being portrayed was not accurate.

In hindsight I'm not sure the vet would have encouraged us to buy her at 6 weeks, but he felt we had absolutely nothing to worry about as she's happy and healthy. He did mention his concern with breeders who hang on to their pups for too long, that part I agree with, unless of course the breeder has no job and can dedicate the time to 8 pups to properly socialise them.

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I've had both my huskies from 12 weeks both are fab. Ice my first husky was the most well behavioured husky in the world he was fully crate and toliet trained when we got him. He was very well socialised by the breeder and was around dogs of all ages at the property.

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