By Christie Keith
May 4, 2010
In my column at the San Francisco Chronicle/SFGate.com today, I examine three top puppy myths, and use the whole thing as an excuse to write about my darling puppy, Rawley:
Rawley was just a little over 11 weeks old when he joined my family. “Why did you wait until he was so old to get him?” asked several people at the dog park. “If you don’t get the puppy by eight weeks old, he’ll never bond with you.”
How they manage to say this while Rawley is climbing all over me and covering my face with kisses, I’m not sure. But I’m sure of one thing: It’s complete nonsense.
Not only will a puppy of any age bond with you, so will adult dogs. The most intense bond I ever had was with a two-year-old shelter dog named Colleen, whom I adopted from the Peninsula Humane Society. We had a stronger connection than I’ve had with dogs I raised from birth.
The kernel of truth at the center of this myth is that if dogs don’t have the opportunity to form bonds with humans in a healthy, loving way at a very specific stage in their development, they’ll have trouble doing so later in life.
But dogs who form those bonds when they’re young easily transfer them from one human to another. If the puppy is raised in a family setting and given human interaction until he leaves to come to you, he’ll be fine.
Yes, some dogs, either because of early experiences or genetic tendencies, are shy. They may take a little wooing or remain “one-person dogs” their whole lives. But the pervasive myth that a door slams at eight weeks of age, and after that your puppy won’t love you, is just wrong.
Give almost any dog of any age affection and a sense of security, and trust me: she’ll bond with you.
Check out the other two myths, and read the rest, here.
Photo: Rawley and me at San Francisco’s Sigmund Stern Grove. Taken by Gina Spadafori.