Q: How can I help my adopted orphan puppy?

June 27, 2010 | By Mary T. | 1 answer | Expired: 2043 days ago

Mary T.

What are the risks of adopting an orphan puppy? How can I help my puppy feel more comfortable?

Chosen Answer

Socialization is critical in making an orphan puppy feel at home in a new family. As long as this pup had siblings around — to “imprint” on the species he was born to — he should be fine.

“Raised in a family of wolves” produces really weird humans, and the need is the same for canine young in two critical life stages: imprinting and socialization. Imprinting on the species around you (other dogs if you’re born a dog) begins soon after birth and continues for weeks. You want this tiny new creature to figure out: “I must be a dog, just like the others, and I’d better adopt dog-like ways to get ahead in this strange new world.”

Non-threatening socialization to other species — in the first few months —is important, too, before a young dog’s aggressive urges kick in. Cat-hating dogs probably didn’t have the benefit of socialization to cats when they were young. Similarly for all kinds of humans: You want the pup to feel comfortable with men, women, children of all sizes, and even the uniformed mailman who comes to the door.

Orphaned pups might miss their mother. But they really need other dogs to usher in dog-hood.

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