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usually directed toward human extremities and may
be interpreted as aggression or lead to aggression depending on how the behavior is treated. Most puppies are not fully housetrained when acquired and they must be taught not to eliminate waste indoors.
Serious behavior problems in puppies encompass fear, phobia, anxiety, and/or aggression. Puppies are unlikely to grow out of serious behavior problems as they get older. The sooner appropriate behavioral training or treatment can be implemented, the greater the likelihood for resolution of the behavior and pet retention.
Importance and Bene ts of Offering Puppy Socialization Classes
Puppy socialization classes are intended for behaviorally normal puppies. Puppy classes are not designed to address abnormal behaviors, but their identi cation allows for early and appropriate treatment. The focus
of puppy class is on education and the prevention of problem behaviors. Puppies should be between 7-12 weeks of age when starting a puppy socialization class.
The bene ts to offering puppy socialization classes in the veterinary hospital include:
-bonding the client to their new puppy and the veterinary hospital5
-educating the client on normal canine behavior -addressing common puppy training issues
-providing a controlled and safe environment for puppy play
Attending puppy socialization classes can help prevent behavior problems such as inter-dog aggression with dogs outside of the home.6 Puppies may be taught independence and owners may taught to prevent codependence, therein possibly preventing separation anxiety. Many fear and anxiety disorders are related to a lack of socialization. Teaching puppies to enjoy restraint and handling will make the veterinary visits go more smoothly. Puppy classes can also help identify problem puppies or high risk puppies for the development of future behavior problems.
A dog that develops undesirable behavior problems is
at an increased risk of relinquishment. While addressing behavior in everyday practice may be somewhat time consuming, the monetary return can be signi cant. Puppy socialization classes typically include 4 weekly one hour classes and cost between $100-175 per attending puppy. Ten attending puppies have the potential to generate 1,000 to 1,750 dollars per month or 12,000 to 21,000 dollars per year.
It has been estimated that on average, 15% of pets are relinquished or euthanized annually because of behavioral issues.7 This is dif cult for pets and their owners and adversely affects veterinary hospitals. A
An Urban Experience
veterinary hospital that loses 5% (a conservative estimate) of its canine patients to pet relinquishment will experience signi cant  nancial loss.
For example:
• A hospital has 3000 active canine patients.
• A loss of 5% of patients equals 150 patients.
• The average annual veterinary cost for a healthy dog is
$300.a
• Therefore, the total annual dollar loss is $45,000 (150
dogs × $300).
• If 10% (300) of dogs were lost, the dollar loss would
be $90,000. If 15% (450) of dogs were lost, the dollar loss would be $135,000.
aThe average veterinary cost is based on a healthy
dog that did not require major medical treatments.
From AP poll, November 2011. http://ap-gfkpoll.com/ uncategorized/ap-petside-com-poll-8-in-10-pet-owners- visited-vet-in-last-year.
Consider puppy socialization classes as vaccinating against behavior problems. Numerous studies have shown that lack of proper socialization can predispose a puppy to cognitive and emotional dysfunctional behaviors.8–10 When group puppy socialization class requires proof of vaccination and other health requirements, the risk of acquiring infectious diseases is low.11-13
References
1. Scott JP, Fuller JL. Genetics and the Social Behavior of the Dog. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press; 1998:101-108, 117-129.
2. Lindsay SR. Development of behavior. Handbook of Applied Dog Behavior and Training: Volume One: Adaptation and Learning. Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press; 2000:63.
3. Scheidegger J. Veterinary practices performing more euthanasias despite increase in stop treatment point: expert practitioners discuss possible causes for apparent discrepancy. DVM Newsmagazine October 24, 2012.
4. Salman MD, New JG, Scarlett JM, et al. Human and animal factors related to the relinquishment of dogs and cats in 12 selected animal shelters in the United States. J Appl Anim Welfare Sci 1998;1(3):207-226.
5. Duxbury MM, Jackson JA, Line SW, Anderson RK. Evaluation of association between retention in the home and attendance at puppy socialization classes. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2003;223(1):61-66.
6. Blackwell EJ, Twels C, Seawright A, Casey RA. The relationship between training methods and the occurrence of behavior probems, as reported by owners, in a population of domestic dogs. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research 2008;3(5):207-217.
7. Tremayne J. AAFP pens behavior guidelines for DVMs, staff, clients. DVM Magazine April 1, 2005. Available at http://veterinarynews.dvm360.com/dvm/ article/articleDetail.jsp?id=155730.
8. Thompson WR, Heron W. The effects of early restriction on activity in dogs. J Comp Physiol Psychol 1954;54:77-82.
9. Thompson WR, Melzack R, Scott TH. “Whirling behavior” in dogs as related to early experience. Science 1956;123:939.
10. Fox MW, Stelzner D. The effects of early experience on the development of inter and intraspecies social relationships in the dog. Anim
Behav 1967;15:377-386.
11. Martin KM, Martin DA. Puppy Start Right for Instructors Course. Karen Pryor Academy; 2012. www.karenpryoracademy.com.
12. Meyer EK. Early puppy socialization classes: weighing the risks vs. bene ts. Available at http://veterinarymedicine.dvm360.com/vetmed/article/ articleDetail.jsp?id=646902. Accessed December 2012.
13. Stepita ME, Bain MJ, Kass PH. Frequency of CPV infection in vaccinated puppies that attended puppy socialization classes. J Am Anim Hosp Assoc 2013;49:95-100.
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