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Posted on 03-26-2015

The socialization period for puppies is between four to sixteen weeks of age, while the socialization period for kittens is between two to seven weeks of age. During this period, whatever the animal learns will be considered normal behavior. When you get a puppy over sixteen weeks of age or a kitten over seven weeks of age, that animal needs to be "rebooted." 

The difference between us humans and our pets is cognitive thought. We understand that there is a consequence for our actions, while our pets do not. In humans, cognitive thought begins around seven years of age. For this reason, it is best to think of our pets like small children. Pets, just like children, are never to be punished. Small children and our furry friends only learn by consistency, repetition, and positive reinforcement. Punishing your pet (hitting, screaming, spraying cats with water, etc.) only creates fear and decreases their ability to learn. 

For example, the most common complaint with dogs is that they jump on guests as they walk through the door. The solution is simple: do not let the dog jump. How do you accomplish this? By tethering the dog to something sturdy before guests walk through the door. If they start to cry or do anything that displeases you, simply ignore the behavior. This is where many people go wrong. Pet parents scream "No!" or "Stop!" when their pet begins to cry or jump. What many people don't realize is that, by doing this, they are actually rewarding their pet's undesired behavior by giving them the attention that they crave. When the dog is tranquil or peaceful, that's when they get the positive reinforcement!

Positive reinforcement can be anything from a low calorie treat, like Train Me! Training Reward Dog Treats by Crazy Dog, to a simple pat on the head accompanied with an enthusiastic "Good dog!" Positive reinforcement will make your pet want to repeat that behavior. 

For some pets that need to be rebooted, short term medications to alleviate anxiety can help the process. There are also diets that contain calming ingredients that make rebooting a lot easier. 

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