Why 8 weeks?

Here is a good link on the critical socialization period for dogs from Dog Star Daily. A quote that stands out to me is, “being accepting and friendly to people is the most important requirement of any companion dog.” This is why, with Shiba Inu, who mature quickly in comparison to other breeds (potty trained by 6 weeks), I would like to see them in their new home by 8 weeks of age. With a breed that tends to be aloof, ask yourselves if it is more important for them to spend an extra two weeks with their littermates bonding with dogs, or meeting new people and learning that humans are fun and safe?

After having more experience in rescue, and those of you in rescue will have heard this too probably, the one thing that will sign a dogs’ euthanasia release is bites to people. Attacking other dogs can be managed with seperation, and even then it doesn’t always work, but human biting in this day and age especially, isn’t going to be well tolerated legally.

There are puppy play groups and play dates in training centers, day care, friends dogs, current dogs, and so on that will help with keeping puppy current on appropriate dog interactions. However, I think it is more important to get the dog into a home where they will be well socialized with people as early as possible. This is not to say that the breed doesn’t have issues with dog aggression as well, because they certainly can, but my first preference would be to help the dog along with being a good pet able to live with people, over being a good pack dog, although I definately desire both of these things in my dogs.

What are your opinions?

4 thoughts on “Why 8 weeks?

  1. Here are my observations over multiple dogs, situations and adoptions over time. I am coming from this at a different angle since I have mainly dealt with rescue animals/puppies. It really depends on several factors. One has to take into account the reference starting point… i.e. health and origin of the animal, character of the puppy/dog, and the experience level of the potential new owner. A "disadvantaged" puppy will need more time mentally and physically before placement. Basically if the puppy has had a good start with the socialization process along with stimulation then either way it isn't going to make a huge difference in regard to the human side of it. The critical socialization period is just that, "a window", on development and for some dogs that is shorter, and for others it stays open a bit longer. How flexible a dog is in this regard is often determined by genetics, although nature and nurture work closely to bring out the greatest potential. A dog that has already had a good start in this direction is not going to collapse by being off by two weeks, BUT, the owner will need to hit the ground running and have all the classes pre-registered and ready to move into to keep up momentum on what was started. Never except excuses for this….new owners have to just "get out there" into a good training or puppy-k session with their dogs : ) This whole process takes a huge commitment on the foster or breeders part to get things started off in the right direction, in addition to guiding the process to further assist once the dog is placed into its new home. A good breeder or foster org. will commit to this out of dedication to the breed and commitment to the animal that started life in their care.

  2. I like Fuzzy's answer. Building from that – two of my rescues came to me as pups. Tsuki was 4 months old, Buckley was just passed 13 weeks. I socialized like it was my job. Anything and everything I could do. Both dogs are amazing with people and other dogs. I'm thinking that for the shiba inu breed, while 8 weeks sounds like it would be ideal for the people socialization aspect – would the average owner be prepared for that window anyway? So for breeders who want to keep dogs a bit longer for socialization purposes, for the average owner, maybe it's not such a bad thing.

  3. Great answer Fuzzy. The breeder has to really know what they are doing and know, based on that puppy's history, temp and special needs when the best time to place it would be, all in relation to the experience and ability of the owner. When I say 8 weeks, know that is based on an admittedly limited experience with certain lines of dogs that tend to be very similar, so I anticipate that time frame to be acceptable.Jen, I do understand better now that you pointed it out, and I don't think it is bad at all for a breeder to decide to hold onto a dog for longer. I would rather do that if I had a really great family lined up, who seemed uncomfortable with the pup being under 9 or 10 weeks. I would rather the owner have the time to prepare and learn and be really ready instead of feeling rushed. If people asked me to hold onto a pup longer, I certainly would.You have done a great job with your crew, there is no denying it 🙂

  4. It's going to be a long time before I'm in the market for a puppy, given what a hellion Bowdu was, but this is how I've heard it explained to me by Basenji breeders whom I respect (and whom I'm citing as an analogous primitive breed that learns quickly).8 weeks is the bare minimum (and legally determined in some states, like mine). By then, they should be potty-trained and generally socialized (with the expectation that more socialization will happen with their new family, of course) if the breeder was doing their job. But ideally, pups go home at 10 or even 12 weeks to the average pet family. They can go earlier *if* the purchaser has experience, particularly with early training on bite inhibition and rough play with other dogs. Otherwise, the B breeders that I know prefer to hold onto the pups for a little longer so they learn to have softer mouths by playing with their littermates, since they have such a particular play style. Meanwhile, they're also getting exposure to various types of people, again *if the breeder is doing their job*.Oh, one breeder also mentioned something about eye tests that are done between 8 and 9 weeks old. So she doesn't want to send her pups home until that's been done.The idea that "bonding" to a human family is no longer possible after a certain strict window sounds highly contingent on sooo many other factors than biological development, and so I am skeptical. I think this idea feeds into people's sense of propriety — they want a puppy as young as possible because it's a "blank slate" and they can "imprint" it to be "theirs." But obviously, puppies are NOT blank slates since genetics and early development contribute from day 0, and adult rescues are perfectly capable of bonding with their humans.Speaking anecdotally, we were told that Bowdu was 10 weeks old, but we suspect that he was closer to 8 weeks. And he had most likely been taken away from his momma at 5 or 6 weeks to sit in a kennel with the other puppies his broker was handling. He had no problem bonding with us, but to this day, his bite inhibition is terrible because we did not know what we were doing and he had no early socialization with other dogs. A story for some other time…

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