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Dog’s instincts curbed in home
Our relationship with dogs has evolved a long way from some 10,000 years ago, when our ancestors recognized and harnessed the exceptional group hunting skills of the wolf to aid in their own survival and success. Through the ages, man has bred and utilized canines for hunting, guarding, scenting, fighting and herding. But with the evolution of civilization from hunting and gathering to agriculture, industry and now an information-based society, the role of the dog has changed dramatically. Once owned only by society's elite, dogs are now kept as pets by all socioeconomic classes with little expectation to-serve as anything more than a loving companion and source of entertainment. For most people, the only thing asked of these highly intelligent, social creatures is that they behave themselves and not cause us any undue stress. For the most part, dogs have taken on the role of children. Fun loving and enthusiastic, their vitality is refreshing. They give us warmth and affection, and their uninhibited nature releases in us the emotions and playful spirit that we normally keep under control in our everyday interactions with other people. But, much like children, dogs come into this world unfamiliar with the rules and expectations that society has set for them. Placed in a home and largely isolated from the world outside of their adoptive family, many pups grow up into dogs that are anxious, aggressive or simply out of control when encountering other facets of every day human life. Problems often develop during trips to the veterinarian, visits from strangers and outdoor exposures to other dogs and people. Moreover, differences in communication, body language and social systems between dogs and people can make raising a well-adjusted pup a difficult process. Pet parenting is not an inherent skill for most people. Studies have shown, and common sense clearly supports, that the early months of a pup's experience is vital to setting the stage for a well- adjusted life. Early experiences and first impressions make all the difference between animals that are fearful and aggressive compared to those that are calm and self-assured. The process is known as socialization and the early months of a pup's life is the period when it must be done to ensure optimal benefits. It also is the time when owners should begin training to take advantage of a puppy's natural desire to learn. Everyone's heard the expression ?an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Nothing could be more true when it comes to puppy raising. Puppy Class I have created a series of puppy classes to expose puppies to positive social experiences so that they can learn to be comfortable in a variety of settings, and to provide dog owners with the tools they will need to minimize problems and maximize the pleasure they will gain as their puppy grows up. Classes begin the weekend of Feb. 18. Locations and times are: 2 p.m. Saturdays at the Pet Practice, formerly Hockessin Animal Hospital, 2394383 4 p.m. Saturdays at Branmar Veterinary Hospital, 475-5700. 1 p.m. Sundays at Wilmington Animal Hospital, 762-2694. 3 p.m. Sundays at New London Veterinary Center, 738-5000. Each puppy enrolled will go through four hour long classes, although new pups may be enrolled each week as class size permits. Puppies should be between 8 and 16 weeks old. The fee is $50. I will be instructing all classes. Call the numbers above to reserve your pup's spot.