The Professional Science Master’s (PSM) program at Colorado State University (CSU) prepares graduate students for an applied career with animal organizations such as zoos, aquariums, and animal shelters. With an emphasis on experiential learning, students complete their capstone projects over the summer with partner organizations, like Larimer Humane Society, gaining hands-on experience and learning from experts in the field.

Under the guidance of mentor and Larimer Humane Society Behavior Supervisor Miranda Kurtz, Kiyo Tamesue (CSU grad student) is spending her summer with Larimer Humane Society researching canine behavior and developing a puppy socialization class. Kiyo’s class includes four components: education, socialization, obedience training, and habituation to novel stimuli. Eventually, Kiyo hopes this class will be available to the public, but for now, they have been practicing in-house with adoptable dogs and trained volunteers. A typical class may include dressing up in costumes (introducing novel stimuli), positive reinforcement training (aka – lots of treats), and, of course, playtime!

Not only are these classes loads of fun, they also play an important role in the growth and wellbeing of puppies and their owners. There is a critical period of socialization that occurs between 3-12 weeks of age when puppies learn how to appropriately behave with other dogs, humans, and the world around them. A lack of socialization within this timeframe can have negative long-term impacts on dogs, such as behavioral problems that last well into their adulthood.

Behavioral problems are the number one reason for the relinquishment of dogs to shelters across the country. Socialization classes, like Kiyo’s, aim to provide both humans and dogs with the skills and knowledge they need to better understand each other, so they can live long, happy, and successful futures together.

Larimer Humane Society strives to enhance the relationships between animals and people in our community, and data-driven approaches, such as these classes, help us understand how to better educate people and provide the highest quality care for animals during their stay with us. Stay tuned to Larimer Humane Society’s social media as they will announce when the puppy socialization class is available for the community!

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