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Puppies Who Attend Kindergarten Are More Likely to Stay in Homes

...if the kindergarten is run by the humane society

...if the kindergarten is run by the humane society

So much for home-schooling: A recent study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (July 1, Vol. 223, No. 1) showed that puppies who attended humane society socialization classes when they were between 7 and 12 weeks old were more likely to stay in their homes than those who did not.

Both the schooled and non-schooled puppies in the study had the same backgrounds: They had all been adopted from the humane society at between 5 and 10 weeks of age—after having originally been relinquished as part of a litter.

Examining dogs from three groups— those who had attended humane society socialization classes as puppies, those who had not attended any classes, and those who had received socialization training from sources other than the shelter—researchers found that the dogs who had been schooled at the humane society were the most likely to still be in their homes. Close to 90 percent of the puppies who had attended the classes were still in their homes at the time their owners filled out the questionnaire, compared to about 76 percent of dogs in the other two categories.

It’s particularly interesting that dogs socialized at classes held by sources other than the humane society were no more likely to have been retained than those who had received no training at all.While the researchers don’t go into extensive analysis of this finding, they do write that they put these dogs in a separate category because “no single approach or curriculum could be attributed to other training sources,” whereas the humane society’s classes had been standardized and well-documented. (The puppies studied had attended socialization classes at the Animal Humane Society in Golden Valley, Minnesota; see the January-February 2000 issue of Animal Sheltering for more information about the shelter’s puppy socialization classes).

“Owner education was a major component of the humane society puppy socialization classes,” the researchers wrote, noting that this focus and the solidarity of the group learning situation may help owners develop a tolerance for natural puppy behaviors and be more prepared for challenges. “...Owners who have received this education may also have a greater perception that help is available as their dog matures beyond puppy class age.”

The researchers examined other factors that may have affected retention rates and wrote that higher retention was also reported for dogs who were female, wore headcollars as puppies, were handled frequently as puppies, were more responsive to commands, slept on or near the owner’s bed, or lived in homes without young children.

Indeed, the presence of young children created a significant risk of relinquishment; only 54 percent of dogs adopted into homes with children under six had been retained. “Our findings indicate that there is a need to educate owners that dogs are not always compatible with children. ... Veterinarians may be able to educate owners by encouraging preadoption counseling and developing realistic expectations, knowledge, and effective tools to manage interactions between children and dogs.”

 

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