No, not the candy. Lifesavers for dogs. What things are so important for a dog to learn that they could literally save their life?
A lot of people think this just means playing with other dogs. That’s a small part of it. I think it’s pretty important for a dog to be able to get along with others of their species, but frankly it is quite possible to live with a dog that doesn’t care for other dogs. What about a dog that doesn’t like humans? What about a dog that is terrified of the world outside his own house? These are much bigger issues and they are part of “socialization” too.
How much do I need to say here? Nobody wants dog pee in their house.
Puppies come out using their mouths like we use our hands. Some breeds have been bred to have naturally “soft” mouths (usually retrievers). Others not so much. And all dogs need to learn to control their teeth around humans. Nobody wants a dog that bites.
You can (and should) work on socialization throughout a dog’s life. But if it wasn’t started in puppyhood, it’s remedial work and much, much harder.
And, sure, you can potty train an older dog, but it’s not as easy if they’ve had a housesoiling habit for some time.
Bite inhibition? Many experts believe you can’t change this at all after a certain (young) age.
These three “lifesavers” are all things we focus on in Puppy Love’s Puppy Kindergarten. Yes we do some “obedience training”, but you can teach a 10 year old dog to sit and come on cue, no problem. The window for (easily) teaching the “lifesavers” is from 3-16 weeks of age.
Don’t waste those first 2 months after you get your puppy!