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  • When do I start socializing my puppy?
    Now. Right now. Call us. It is never too early (unless you got your puppy to early) in which case, call us right now. The socialization window for puppies starts at 8 weeks and beings to close at 18 weeks - after that you are working against the clock. So, call us! Incase you don't believe us, hear it straight from Dr. Ian Dunbar's mouth; From Dr. Ian Dunbar on early puppy socialization: Socialization is the process of becoming familiar with all kinds of animals, people, places, and things; as well as learning how to behave in society. All puppies need socialization regardless of breed, type, or temperament. Please do not take this for granted, regardless of your breed description. Even dogs from breeds that have a very good reputation for loving people will need to be thoroughly socialized as puppies, to make sure that they have lots of great experiences being around all kinds of different people. And more importantly, breeds that are known to be less social (often described as aloof) must be socialized to grow up to love to be around people in order to be good canine citizens (and not end up in news headlines). It makes sense that if a pup grows up meeting lots of people and going to lots of different places, and always having fun when it happens, he’ll grow into a confident, secure, adult dog who loves to meet people, visit places, and is comfortable in all situations. Puppies must be socialized before three months of age and sadly, many breeders and owners are missing the boat. Prior to eight weeks of age, puppies need to be safely and gently exposed to as many different environments as possible and to interact with and be hugged, handled, handfed and trained by at least 100 people, especially children, strangers and men and then, by at least another 100 people during the first month in their new homes. Amazingly, neonatal handling alone can desensitize nine of the 12 most common subliminal bite triggers. If a puppy is shielded from new experiences and people though, he’ll likely grow up to be timid and possibly frightened of new things. Also, an under-socialized dog is more likely to react defensively around new people and in new situations and this is potentially dangerous. It is important to note that most bites occur because a dog is fearful and unsure, not because he is “dominant” or “protective”. A socialized dog with many good experiences under his belt is a confident dog , and a confident dog is always impressive and solid in character. Temperament problems, however, must be prevented during early puppyhood because rehabilitating adult dogs is complicated and extremely time-consuming. For example, whereas It takes just a few days, or a week at the most, to resolve incipient signs of shyness, fearfulness, intractability, or aggression towards people in a two- to three-month-old puppy, it would take several months to resolve similar problems in a five-month old adolescent and one or two years to rehabilitate a fearful/aggressive eight-month-old, (provided that the dog is not dangerous, i.e., has never actually harmed a person). Even then, the adult dog will never have the confidence that it could have had if given adequate socialization as a young puppy. So it’s up to you to provide all kinds of new friends and experiences for your puppy. Luckily for you, this is lots of fun – cute infants of all species bring out the goodwill in everyone, and you’ll find that people will line up to help you socialize your puppy! For a list of socialization exercises please see the homework section of Dr. Ian Dunbar’s book AFTER You Get Your Puppy or get your free download at: Or from Dr. R. K. Anderson; A Letter on Puppy Socialization from Dr. R.K. Anderson, DVM, Diplomat, American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine and Diplomat of American College of Veterinary Behaviorists TO: My Colleagues in Veterinary Medicine: Common questions I receive from puppy owners, dog trainers and veterinarians concern: 1) what is the most favorable age or period of time when puppies learn best? 2) what are the health implications of my advice that veterinarians and trainers should offer socialization programs for puppies starting at 8 to 9 weeks of age. Puppies begin learning at birth and their brains appear to be particularly responsive to learning and retaining experiences that are encountered during the first 13 to 16 weeks after birth [Dr. Anderson is saying that the prime time for puppy socialization stops somewhere between 13 and 16 weeks, although more socialization occurs after that time]. This means that breeders, new puppy owners, veterinarians, trainers and behaviorists have a responsibility to assist in providing these learning/socialization experiences with other puppies/dogs, with children/adults and with various environmental situations during this optimal period from birth to 16 weeks. Many veterinarians are making this early socialization and learning program part of a total wellness plan for breeders and new owners of puppies during the first 16 weeks of a puppy’s life -- the first 7-8 weeks with the breeder and the next 8 weeks with the new owners. This socialization program should enroll puppies from 8 to 12 weeks of age as a key part of any preventive medicine program to improve the bond between pets and their people and keep dogs as valued members of the family for 12 to 18 years. To take full advantage of this early special learning period, many veterinarians recommend that new owners take their puppies to puppy socialization classes, beginning at 8 to 9 weeks of age. At this age they should have (and can be required to have) received a minimum of their first series of vaccines for protection against infectious diseases. This provides the basis for increasing immunity by further repeated exposure to these antigens either through natural exposure in small doses or artificial exposure with vaccines during the next 8 to 12 weeks. In addition the owner and people offering puppy socialization should take precautions to have the environment and the participating puppies as free of natural exposure as possible by good hygiene and caring by careful instructors and owners. Experience and epidemiologic data support the relative safety and lack of transmission of disease in these puppy socialization classes over the past 10 years in many parts of the United States. In fact; the risk of a dog dying because of infection with distemper or parvo disease is far less than the much higher risk of a dog dying (euthanasia) because of a behavior problem. Many veterinarians are now offering new puppy owners puppy socialization classes in their hospitals or nearby training facilities in conjunction with trainers and behaviorists because they want socialization and training to be very important parts of a wellness plan for every puppy. We need to recognize that this special sensitive period for learning is the best opportunity we have to influence behavior for dogs and the most important and longest lasting part of a total wellness plan. Are there risks? Yes. But 10 years of good experience and data, with few exceptions, offers veterinarians the opportunity to generally recommend early socialization and training classes, beginning when puppies are 8 to 9 weeks of age. However, we always follow a veterinarian’s professional judgment, in individual cases or situations, where special circumstances warrant further immunization for a special puppy before starting such classes. During any period of delay for puppy classes, owners should begin a program of socialization with children and adults, outside their family, to take advantage of this special period in a puppy’s life. If there are further questions, veterinarians may call me at (BLOCKED) for discussion and clarification. - Robert K. Anderson DVM, Diplomat, American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine and Diplomat of American College of Veterinary Behaviorists
  • What is the assessment for?
    The assessment is simply an opportunity to make sure your pup is a good fit for and will enjoy daycare. It is dedicated time for a trainer to slowly introduce your dog into our group while monitoring body language and watch for any signs of stress, apprehension, fear, or aggression. Once the assessment is complete, we can better know how to proceed to give them the most success and fun out of daycare and/or training. Sometimes we have recommendations, sometimes they fit right in and can start daycare and/or training right away.
  • What age should I start training my dog?
    Right away! Bringing home your puppy is an exciting time, however, it is important to remember that as cute and cuddly as your puppy is at this stage in their life, they will need to learn some manners in order to become a valued member of the family. It is very important to teach your puppy their role in your household so they can learn the social structure of their new home. Your puppy will never be more open to learn then are during the first 13 weeks of thier lives. Just like children, puppies need structure and guidelines
  • Should I crate train my dog?
    To kennel train or not is always a personal choice, but in our opinion, Yes! This is for a few reasons - - Safety - Your dog can't chew your couch or drywall when in a kennel - Safety #2 - In the event of a fire you know exactly where they are to send help - Emergency & Health - if your dogs ever become ill and needs to stay at the vet, if they get spayed or neutered being able to be confined comfortably is a big deal. - Travel - If you have to leave your dog in a boarding facility being able to be kennel give your dog added comfort and often saves money.* Even for in home boarding dogs - It is a new environment and as such the risk of destruction or accidental ingestion is higher. It is also the safest place for them to be in the event of any emergency, and reduces the risk of and accidents or escapes. - Travel #2 - In the event of an car accident a kennel is only safe place for your pet to be and prevents accidental ejection. - Security & Safe Haven - If you have children or a busy household, or could ever have a busy household - if the energy in your home gets to be too much, or you need to bring in a stranger such as a repair man, having a safe space for your dogs is critical for everyone's safety. - Housebreaking & Seperation Anxiety - Proper use can speed up house breaking and dramatically reduce your risks of seperation axnxiey ane the assocaited destruction. - The earlier the better - the odds of success of kennel comfort in a puppy is exponentially higher then attempts to kennel train an adult dog. The associated stress related to the process is also significantly reduced.
  • How much exercise does my dog need?
    Did you know that puppies should spend more than half thier day sleeping? Did you know that a nippy puppy is often over tired? Did you know most behavioural problems can be traced back to an under stimulated, under exercised dog? Did you know that mental stimulation is just as tiring if not more tiring then physical exericse for your dog? Did you know some sporting breeds can run for hours straight without the need for rest? We did! That is why your pup should be assessed by us so we can work with you to help your pup satisfy thier specific training and exercise needs for better success and happiness at home! Some breeds require exercise more than others, and some require more mental stimulation than other, some require hard exercise for 5 mins 3x a week. and every dog is different. As your dog ages they may require longer play session and less frequent breaks, while other will require less over all. Some may never slow down at all. In addition to obvious home and health benefits to a lean body weight, regular exercise helps stop injuries in dogs that are "weekend warriors". There is also evidence that exercise and a lean body weight can slow the prgression of many orthopedic problems, along with a reduction in unwanted behaviours such as digging,chewing and barking. All in all - we can help guide you to a plan for proper exercise and mental stiulation for you pup, we just have to meet them!
  • Why is handling my puppy and bite inhibition so important?
    Dog are pack animals and as such they are seeking leaders. No, this is not pin your puppy and growl at them leaders. This is I've got you, you can trust me leader. First it is important to undertand that mouthing and biting is part of normal puppy bahaviour. It comes in phases (as does chewing). True aggression in puppies is rare - though it does happen. Handling your puppy a young age can aid in vet visits, and grooming visits. It also helps teach your pup that they can trust you, even with vulnurable parts of themselves. A puppy that will let you (as thier leader) to cradle them in in you arms will also trust you to tell them whether is that stranger is a risk or not. Bite inhibition is another part of this entirely - this is the force in which your pup uses thier mouth for. This is taught to puppies from thier mom's and siblings. Sometimes we have to carry on this lesson. Daycare is a great place to teach this as you pup will be paired with a dog that has been trusted to use proper force or other puppies who are also learning. So, when your pup bites too hard someone screams and they all scatter leaving your pup alone and without friends. That way your pup learns soft mouth = more friends. We want to stress, the dog park IS NOT the place to teach this to your pup! Those dogs are necessarily tolerant of puppies (many aren't) your pup may end up traumatized or worse from accidently biting another dog at the dog park too hard. If you are stuggling with puppy nipping and biting we encourage you to schedule an assessment with us as soon as possible so we can help you and your pup course correct and get on the road to success.
  • Do small dogs and big dogs all intergrate together at daycare?
    Yes & No. We do not group dogs together based on size alone, but rather group by age, personalites, and energy levels followed by size. The biggest dog in the group is a 150lb irish wolfhound - who also happend to be the resident mom (literally). Size is not everything! and we know that here. However, safety is a top priority, the odds of a 3lb dog playing in a group with many dogs over thier weight class is slim - and if a little dog has a big dog personality, but we feel it is unsafe to group them with the larger dogs, then we will make a size appropiate play group. The staff are trained to match based upon each dogs needs with safety as our top priority. If you have a little dog and have any questions or concerns, feel free to reeach out using the "contact us" option on our site!
  • What are some key points when dog training?
    Keep it short - anything longer than 5-10mins for a puppy and 10-15min for an adult dog can cause frustration and lead to blow offs and lack of interest. Reward! Reward! Reward! - if you didn't get paid for doing your job, would you still continue to go to work? Always end on a good note - Pushing till the point of failure is never the way to end your games. Don't get frustrated! - make training a fun experience for both you and your dog. Keep it random and informal - "training sessions" makes for a dog who only works when the treat bag and clicker are out. Ask for 1 thing then move on. Hide treats in the house or in your pocket so they "appear" when your dog offers good behaviours. Dogs do not generalize. This is why it is important to practice basic obedience outside of your home. This is also where you will need to remind your dog to "leave it" for various things. Catch your dog doing something right! It takes time to train your dog. Unfortunately there are no short cuts or magic solutions. Some dogs catch on quicker than others, but consitiency is key, so make sure to practice lots. There is building blocks - you can't place a roof on 1 wall. NEVER scold your dog for coming to you, even if they were being bad. If your friend smacked you every time you came to see them, would you still go visit them? DO NOT repeat commands. Your dog will learn they don't have to listen to you the first time because you will repeat it a few more times before you mean it. Earning your dog's respect requires you to act in certain ways that they see worthy of your respect. We could go on all day... Or, you can call us - and we can help you. Seriously... contact us.
  • Should I free feed my dog?
    No! Free feeding can lead to weight gain and lack of motivation when training your dog. It also is a slippery slope to the need for toppers and extras to get your pup to eat making for a vicious cycle of stress and anxiety over feeding your picky dog. Food from a bowl is a wasted training opportunity. Ideally your pup would work for every piece of kibble (or raw) they receive - we suggest that you have your dog work for at least one or the beginning of all thier meals. To transition to meal feed, simply put the bowl down for 15 minutes and if your dog does not eat their food in that time frame, pick the bowl back up and try again at the next meal time. It may take a few days and a couple missed meals but the odds of your dog starving to death is less than 1%!!
  • Can I have a tour of your facility?
    Yes! We have nothing to hide! Howvever, for liability reasons, tours must be done before the first dog arrives in the morning, or after the last dog leaves at the end of the day. As you can imagine, this can be hard to schedule. Luckily, we have a whole wall that is also a window into our facility, upon request (and often in the summer) that window is open for all to see behind the scenes. We also have closed cirucuit cameras that we are happy to show you upon request. The only thing we ask of you - please do not address the dogs as they can be leery of stangers and can set back reactivity training, or cause unsafe situations due to overstimulation. Here at TopDog's Muttessori EVERYTHING is a training opportunity!
  • Have you ever had any incidents at your school?
    Yes, After 5 years of operation if we didn't we would be supernatural. Have any of our dogs ever been seriously injuired? No. We have a staff to dog ratio higher then another daycare we know of. This allows us to average 1 staff person for every 6 dogs just like the standard for child - teacher ratios in Montessori Schools. What this means is that like any other living creature; when there is a disagreement, there is more then enough hands present to get things under control quickly. We are also leading the industry in out rates tailored to each dog policy that allows higher needs dogs to have smaller groups and more staff to ensure a safety record to don't have to be embarrassed of. Disagreements happen - but here we are staffed for them.
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