The Kennel Club and Dogs Trust have come together to launch the Puppy Plan, a unique new initiative for dog breeders and owners which aims to give every puppy the very best start in life to prevent behavioural problems later on.
The Puppy Plan is being launched to Kennel Club Assured Breeders as a pilot scheme for those breeders who have agreed to follow good breeding practices as set out by the Kennel Club. Dogs Trust will also roll the Puppy Plan out in their rehoming centres. This will be incorporated with the basic puppy training given to puppies that are born onsite and those brought into the charity for rehoming.
The aim of the plan is to help puppies be fully prepared for their future as companion dogs, to improve life for both them and their new owners. The foundations for a puppy’s future behaviour and character are laid down in the first 16 weeks of his or her life. This is a vital time when it is possible to develop the puppy’s brain, and shape the way he or she will turn out as an adult dog. This is also the time when most problem behaviours can be prevented, long before they even start, giving the dog a far more certain future – and the new owner far fewer potential problems.
The Puppy Plan has been developed by dog behaviourist Carolyn Menteith, using the most up-to-date research available, and is a step-by-step, simple but comprehensive socialisation plan that starts with the breeder (or early care-giver). The breeder will work through the first eight weeks, recording each step through a series of diary entries, photos or videos and this is then passed onto the new owner to continue.
The plan has been developed to ensure healthy happy dogs, prevent behavioural problems, and cut the number of owners giving up on dogs and handing them over to rescue organisations, returning them to breeders, or having them euthanased for behavioural problems.
Many, if not most behavioural problems can be prevented through good socialisation and early education – these can include aggression, noise phobias, separation anxieties, over-reactivity, learning problems and much more. The biggest cause of death in dogs under two is euthanasia because of behavioural problems.*
Caroline Kisko, Communications Director for the Kennel Club said, “From the moment a litter of puppies is planned, both the breeder and then the new owners want to do everything possible to make sure that each new life has the chance to grow up to be the very best dog it can be.
“With health testing and responsible breeding, we can do as much as possible to make sure puppies are healthy and ‘fit for function’. Many breeders and owners understand the importance of socialisation, but there is not as much advice or support for either party which covers the puppy from birth through those important early weeks. The Puppy Plan will deliver a comprehensive programme that ensures the breeder and new owner have all the support possible to prepare puppies for a long, happy, healthy life.”
Clarissa Baldwin, Dogs Trust Chief Executive said, “Sadly we see so many under-socialised dogs coming into our rehoming centres as they have been difficult to train and deal with in a home environment as young dogs. These dogs are the lucky ones as they have a second chance to end up in the right home, but too often puppies are being abandoned due to ‘bad’ behaviour.
“Dogs are expected to fit into the family, and that might include children, other dogs, cats and much more. He will have to accept loud noises and the unpredictable sounds of his new home; he will have to learn to be left alone when we can’t take him out; come everywhere with us when he can; and he needs to learn not to herd children, chase the cat, knock over granny, steal the Sunday dinner, or threaten the postman, or anyone else!
“It is hoped the trial is a success with the Kennel Club Assured Breeders and in time can be implemented to anyone and everyone who breeds or is involved in dogs. It will be very interesting to see the results of this in our rehoming centres as the Puppy Plan becomes more widely used.”