When Miniature Schnauzer Bertie, now fourteen months old, was picked up at the breeder at eight weeks old, he was shaking with fear. This is not a good start. Already he should have been handled and played with by various different people, adults and children, he should have been introduced to household things like vacuum cleaners and maybe even taken for a brief ride in a car. He should have spent time in the the house and time outside so that he learns to tell the difference for toileting purposes.
There is a critical time in a puppy’s development for introducing new things, and experiences both good and bad can have a lasting effect. Ideally there should be a variety of experiences – all good ones.
A consequence is that, through fear, Bertie will nip people – especially the couple’s grandchildren. He may suddenly fly at them from across the room. He barks and growls when people come in the house. He is scared of everyday items and unknown things. He is very protective and on guard which can be a big burden brought about by insecurity. Looking at his picture it’s hard to believe, but day times are spent in quite a highly aroused state – often looking for trouble! A stable, calm dog will probably sleep about seventeen hours a day.
Bertie now needs to learn that he is not the centre of the universe along with the responsibilities that carries, and to become more confident in general. He is a well-loved little dog whose owners are already doing many of the ‘right things’. A puppy that is already scared of people at eight weeks is going to be harder work. I have already experience of this with my own German Shepherd, Milly, who was born in a puppy farm and had no real human contact until she was twelve weeks old when her first owner bought her.