Life Beyond Your First Puppy Class
The concept of every year of a dog’s life is like seven years to a human is commonly cited. The truth is dogs do age more quickly than we do, but it isn’t exactly an exact equation of 1:7. That is more like an average, with the first year actually being closer to thirteen human years. Think about how much education goes into a thirteen year old. There is all that parents do to influence behavior, teaching children how to respond in social interactions, and the book learning that occurs at school. Both of these forms of education continue for a long time. A similar investment should be made in dogs.
Often times when I am called in for problem behavior resolution I find that education basically stopped after puppy class. Changes occur in your canine over the course of several years. The broad range cited for social maturity is 12-36 months, and the narrow range cited is 18-24 months.* This is the time that dogs are considered stable in temperament and personality. Of course, learning can occur for a very long time after as far as age. The change in neurochemicals remains unmeasured at this point. What it means, though, is that ending training with one puppy class leaves a lot to chance! The various stages your pup/dog goes through need continued input, continued training. Like so many other worthwhile aspects of life; what you put in influences what you get out.
Kristie Swan, CPDT