Empathy never ‘spoiled’ anybody

Dr. Jeff NicholQ: My new puppy, Buddy, arrived yesterday. He has been socialized with other dogs on a regular basis because the breeder has a doggy day care. He was subdued when he first arrived but wherever I was, he was there, practically on my feet. He whines almost like a child when he wants to be picked up. I’ve tried to engage him in play and he will wag his tail and act like he’s interested but then immediately climbs into my lap. I love holding Buddy, but I can’t spend all day doing it.

Dr. Nichol: Little Buddy may not have been ready to leave home. He’ll need special care as he adapts to life away from his mother and siblings. Holding him now will help reduce his anxiety. Empathy never “spoiled” anybody.

Proper socialization makes a huge difference. Buddy got a good start by rubbing elbows with older dogs, investigating their rear ends and learning to spit. Between ages 3-8 weeks puppies are ready to learn to play well with others. They should meet people of various sizes, ages, and descriptions from 5-12 weeks. When they’re 10-12 weeks old and again between 16-20 weeks they can adapt to exploring new environments. Gentle life lessons, absorbed during the right time intervals, set canine youngsters up for a stable life.

Buddy can start feeling better today. Plug-in an Adaptil diffuser near his sleeping area, in addition to other rooms where the kid will spend time. Similar to what Mom shared with her babies back in the nest, this odorless pheromone will promote a calm emotional state. Music that’s been scientifically developed for dogs, called Through a Dog’s Ear, will also help.

Forget tough love. Never allow anyone to reprimand or punish the little squirt for his anxiety. He needs his people and his home to be reliable and secure. You can give him a covered crate as a den but never close or latch the door. Dogs of all ages need choices. With your patience and kindness, Buddy is almost sure to become a confident dog who will make you proud. You might even be raising a future president.

Dr. Jeff Nichol, a residency-trained veterinary behaviorist, provides consultations in-person and by telephone and Zoom (505-792-5131). Each week he shares a blog and a Facebook Live video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com. Post questions on facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by mail to 4000 Montgomery NE, Albuquerque, N.M., 87109.


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