Behavior issue risk vs health risk – always a touchy subject amongst veterinarians, dog trainers, and dog owners…IMO, education – where classes are specifically designed and geared towards puppy socialization and prevention of behavior issues in a safe, controlled, and managed environment should be a priority with our domesticated dogs…Unfortunately, keeping new pups tucked away at home until they are well past the “prime period” is still more of the norm in our society than not.
Why you ask, is it so important? After all, it’s only a manner of of couple of weeks, right? Behaviors – desired and undesired are formed immediately out of the womb. Pups soon learn what works and what doesn’t work with their mother and littermate’s, as well as the human(s) handling them. After they are taken into their new homes many of these important learning opportunities are left up to the family members to continue teaching – including proper use of mouth (bite inhibition), communication (in specific doggy language), what is appropriate play and what isn’t (again, in doggy world). Yes, we humans do as much as we can to help – but because we are a different species, with our own species specific language, play styles, greeting behaviors, and innate behaviors, it is probably best to leave it up to dogs themselves to teach one another – similar to children on a playground – but with responsible humans monitoring their actions in order to help them build confidence, and form those social graces we all want our dogs to have.