Petco wants your dog to play well with others at free socialization classes this weekend

A dog may well be man's best friend. But if not trained properly, your canine companion could become your worst nightmare. That's why Petco will be hosting free puppy socialization seminars this weekend in every location in metro Denver. The sessions are designed to introduce puppies to new situations in a controlled environment -- under the supervision of trained professionals.

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Broomfield Petco general manager and certified dog trainer Brian Carlson says the goal of this weekend's seminars is to "expose puppies to as many new people, dogs and environments as possible." Dogs are "most impressionable between the ages of six and fourteen weeks," he explains, "and if they have a good association with meeting new people and dogs, it's going to carry through for the rest of their lives."

According to Carlson, true socialization isn't something you can just obtain by owning multiple dogs. Many dog owners "have misconceptions and feel if they have other dogs at home that's all the socialization their puppy needs, but because that's a closed-off environment it doesn't have the same effect," he says. "Getting out into the world introduces your puppy to all sorts of situations that it won't see in one specific location."

Side effects of improper socialization vary, but Carlson maintains that they can even be dangerous. "When a dog isn't socialized properly, what you see is fear," he explains. "It's more often fear of the unknown. What you'll eventually end up with is a dog who can't cope with fear and naturally their first instinct is to lash out. Biting is an extreme circumstance but if not socialized properly, it can happen."

Denver Petco locations have been hosting puppy socialization seminars for over a decade; most stores hold classes once a week, week, often on Saturdays. This weekend's citywide seminars will all start at 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and will last for roughly an hour. All dog breeds are welcome; puppies must be between the age of eight weeks and six months, and up to date on their vaccinations.

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