Your puppy's early experiences with people determine how he views and reacts to humans later in life. A puppy raised in a negative environment will likely grow into an aggressive, shy and possibly dangerous dog as an adult, something you definitely want to avoid.
Improper Early Socialization
Your puppy learns most of his social behaviors between the ages of 3 weeks and 12 weeks, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Teasing -- including rough handling, poking, prodding or otherwise annoying -- a defenseless young pup during this time is not only potential physically harmful to him but potentially mentally harmful as well. Cruel treatment teaches your pup that people are dangerous and something to fear, the Bichon Frise Club of America warns on its website. After 18 weeks of age, it will be very difficult to reverse whatever negative connotations the first few months of life have put in the pet's mind.
Your constant teasing of a puppy can eventually provoke him to become aggressive to you or other people, according to the Partnership for Animal Welfare. Aggressive behaviors include growling, snarling, nipping and biting. A light bite might seem cute from a young pup; but encouraging biting by teasing a dog will ultimately lead to someone getting hurt. According to veterinarian Meghan Herron, author of a study on dog aggression, even just roughly playing with your dog using your hands, feet or other body parts can lead to aggressive behavior.
According to the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, cruel treatment of a puppy causes him to experience pain and fear. Thus, that little guy will seek out places to get away from you if you tease him in a way that harms or simply frightens him. This creates a fearful dog that will spend most of his time hiding or cowering in fear. Keep in mind that if your dog's constantly teased, he has likely grown to expect only negative interactions with you. For example, he may think that you want to harm him even when you want to just play with or pet him, according to the Humane Society of the United States.
The stress caused by constant teasing can lead to a variety of behavioral or medical issues for your pup, including obsessive-compulsive behaviors and excessive grooming, sometimes to the point of self-injury, according to the Whole Dog Journal. Your pup may stop eating, eliminate in your home and develop gastrointestinal upset due to stress. Stress also weakens his immune system, leading to a variety of illnesses. Any illness is a serious issue for a growing puppy that may not have all of his vaccinations yet.
With a safe, loving environment, your puppy should grow into a confident, gentle companion. Monitor young children around your puppy to prevent them from inadvertently teasing or harming the pup, the Chihuahua Club of America website warns. Avoid any types of teasing, including seemingly innocent games like tug-of-war, because they can encourage aggressive behavior, according to Cesar's Way. Keep in mind that many state laws classify severe teasing -- that results in the pain and suffering of a puppy -- as an act of animal cruelty. Animal cruelty charges can result in fines or even jail time.