Proofing Polite Puppies
I have been reading articles about Ethology or the study of animal behaviour and in particular an excellent new book called How Dogs Work by Coppinger and Feinstein. I am interested in the juvenile stage of maximal learning from 8 weeks to sexual maturity when so many behaviours, both acceptable and unacceptable, are “learnt”. At Milton Village Vet’s Polite Puppy Preschool we aim to give owners and their pups tools and techniques at the beginning of this crucial period to set them both up for a successful and harmonious life together.
Dogs’ shapes and behaviours are the complex outcomes of natural selection and evolutionary and developmental processes. Genes encode for proteins and build whole bodies and brains whose forms allows for particular kinds of behaviour. The plethora of dog breeds, shapes, sizes and behaviours tells us that there are a vast variety of solutions to the challenges of a canine life.
To a certain extent all behaviour is genetic but paradoxically there are no genes for behaviour. Behaviour is therefore a combination of genetic and learnt factors.
Neonatal pups are fully dependent on their mothers until 6-8 weeks when they begin to develop independence and start to express innate and learnt behaviour that will eventually lead to them becoming a physical and behavioural adult.
During this metamorphosis the pup displays both adult and neonatal behaviour, often simultaneously, and over time this behaviour is disassembled, reconfigured and remodelled. What owners do or don’t do during this crucial period can determine whether they end up with the perfect or nightmare pet.
Polite Puppy Preschool
Polite Puppy Preschool is designed and run by a veterinary behaviourist. It has the simple objectives of: calm sit on request and greeting, loose leash walking, remain quiet, rest quietly on bed when asked, calm behaviour in public and preventing common behavioural problems.
It runs over three consecutive Wednesday afternoons for pups between 8 to 12 weeks of age with a maximum class size of five. All participants receive printed course notes and bookings are essential.