When you get a puppy, it’s all about the love. But did you know that even 8-week-old puppies have the brain wiring of an adult? Their most critical social period is from age 6 weeks to 12 weeks. During this time, a puppy’s curiosity is greater than his fear. Everything he learns safely during that window is a benefit to him for the rest of his life. If you adopt your puppy during this window, you’re in luck. He is ready to learn! Once he has his first shots, you should get him out and about right away. Can he learn after that period? Of course! But it will be a little or a lot harder, depending on his age.
What sort of learning is most important? Your puppy needs to meet different kinds of people. He should be introduced to other safe dogs – especially puppies his age – as well as new sounds and handling. He needs to see everything you can show him. The very best thing you can do for your puppy is enroll him in puppy kindergarten, where he can have a series of wonderful and safe experiences. Look for a class that keeps puppies together by age group and play style, so they are all evenly matched. You will learn many things about your dog and how to care for him well. He will learn things from the other pups that you can’t teach: good dog-to-dog play behavior, polite body language, confidence in public, acceptance of strangers. And yes, he’ll learn lots of great behaviors that you like – things that will help him be a great housemate, such as Sit, Down, Watch Me, Here, Touch. Puppy kindergarten is the most important class your dog will ever take. And it may well be the most delightful way you can bond with your dog. Be sure you both don’t miss out.