Amat M, Manteca X Common feline problem behaviours: Ownerdirected aggression. J Feline Med Surg.. 2019; 21:(3)245-255

Cazeaux RLBAragon, Spain: Grupo Asis; 2021

Denenberg S, Dubé MB Tools for managing feline problem behaviours psychoactive medications. J Feline Med Surg.. 2018; 20:(11)1034-1045

Edwards PT, Hazel SJ, Browne M, Serpell JA, McArthur ML, Smith BP Investigating risk factors that predict a dog's fear during veterinary consultations. PLoS One.. 2019; 14:(7)

Erickson A, Harbin K, MacPherson J, Rundle K, Overall KL A review of pre-appointment medications to reduce fear and anxiety in dogs and cats at veterinary visits. Can Vet J.. 2021; 62:(9)952-960

Grant RA, Warrior JR Clicker training increases exploratory behaviour and time spent at the front of the enclosure in shelter cats; implications for welfare and adoption rates. Appli Anim Behav Sci.. 2019; 211:77-83

Hargrave C Why integrate preventative behaviour advice and first aid into routine practice?. The Veterinary Nurse.. 2019a; 10:(7)365-371

Hargrave C Practical behavioural first aid for feline patients. The Veterinary Nurse.. 2019b; 10:(9)465-473

Hargrave C Help to ensure that owners don't make this bonfire night a night to remember. The Veterinary Nurse.. 2020; 11:(7)

Hargrave C Firework season 2021 - whizzes, flashes and bangs. The Veterinary Nurse.. 2021; 12:(8)

Hart LA, Hart BL An ancient practice but a new paradigm: personal choice for the age to spay or neuter a dog. Front Vet Sci.. 2021; 8

Hart BL, Hart LA, Thigpen AP, Willits NH Assisting decision-making on age of neutering for 35 breeds of dogs: associated joint disorders, cancers, and urinary incontinence. Front Vet Sci.. 2020; 7

Lopresti-Goodman SM, Bensmiller N Former laboratory dogs' psychological and behavioural characteristics. Vet Med-Czech.. 2022; 67:599-610

Mills DS, Demontigny-Bédard I, Gruen M Pain and problem behavior in cats and dogs. Animals (Basel).. 2020; 10:(2)

Oxley JA, Ashman R, James L PDSA Animal Wellbeing report on pet health and welfare. The Veterinary Nurse.. 2022; 13:(10)

Puurunen J, Hakanen E, Salonen MK Inadequate socialisation, inactivity, and urban living environment are associated with social fearfulness in pet dogs. Sci Rep.. 2020; 10:(1)

Riemer S Effectiveness of treatments for firework fears in dogs. J Vet Behav.. 2020; 37:61-70

Riemer S, Heritier C, Windschnurer I, Pratsch L, Arhant C, Affenzeller N A review on mitigating fear and aggression in dogs and cats in a veterinary setting. Animals (Basel).. 2021; 11:(1)

Stagg M How to create a dog friendly clinic. The Veterinary Nurse.. 2022; 13:(6)278-282

Stellato AC, Dewey CE, Widowski TM, Niel L Evaluation of associations between owner presence and indicators of fear in dogs during routine veterinary examinations. J Am Vet Med Assoc.. 2020; 257:(10)1031-1040

Stellato AC, Flint HE, Dewey CE, Widowski TM, Niel L Risk-factors associated with veterinary-related fear and aggression in owned domestic dogs. Appl Anim Behav Sci.. 2021; 241

Stolzlechner L, Bonorand A, Riemer S Optimising puppy socialisationshort- and long-term effects of a training programme during the early socialisation period. Animals (Basel).. 2022; 12:(22)

Warnes C The use of behaviourally active medication in companion animals part 3. The Veterinary Nurse.. 2022; 13:(5)220-224

White S Module 2: Physiology emotion and behaviour.: BVNA; 2023

Williams J Module 3: Avoiding problem behaviours.: BVNA; 2023

Wongsaengchan C, McKeegan DEF The views of the UK public towards routine neutering of dogs and cats. Animals (Basel).. 2019; 9:(4)

Early training and the impact of fear

02 February 2024
14 mins read
Volume 15 · Issue 1
Figure 2. Kittens have a peak socialisation period at 6–12 weeks of age.
Figure 2. Kittens have a peak socialisation period at 6–12 weeks of age.


Early training is vital for the well-rounded behaviour and socialisation of young animals including both puppies and kittens; this article considers recent research on the impact of the fear periods, neutering, training and the consequences of inattention to behaviours escalating the ladder of aggression. Having a well-rounded knowledge of these theories can help veterinary staff to appropriately advise breeders on how to provide a nurturing environment for young animals before they go to their first homes, as well as suggestions and tools to combat or reduce emerging troubling behaviours as they are exhibited.

Early training is key for the socialisation of puppies and kittens. This article looks at recent research on puppy and kitten socialisation, neutering and training methods, as well as how clinics and owners can improve the pet's experience of clinic visits.

The peak socialisation period for puppies is between 6 and 12 weeks of age. This is the key period where new sounds, smells, sights and experiences all combine to inform the young dog what is to be deemed ‘safe’ as they grow up (Cazeaux, 2021; Landsberg et al, 2023). While research needs to be continued, although some behavioural traits have genetic roots (Puurunen et al, 2020), these inherited traits are affected by a puppy's early experiences.

Excellent breeders will discuss this with owners, and will ensure that from birth the litter has been gently and carefully exposed to other pets, well-behaved children, noises, such as the doorbell and washing machine, as well as a variety of people and environments such as grass, carpets and shiny surfaces, in a positive manner (Williams, 2023). These positive experiences must continue when the puppy has the stressful task of fitting into their new home, hopefully before they reach the end of their socialisation period at 12 weeks, to allow this safe exposure to novel stimuli to continue.

Register now to continue reading

Thank you for visiting The Veterinary Nurse and reading some of our peer-reviewed content for veterinary professionals. To continue reading this article, please register today.