There is a limited window of time in puppyhood during which a puppy must get exposure to a variety of people, animals, places and objects in order to grow up with a healthy adaptable social outlook. Dr Ian Dunbar a veterinarian and animal behaviorist suggests that during the first 12 weeks of your puppies’ life you introduce him to at least 100 people.
The experience a puppy has during the first 12 weeks of his life will have a profound and unchangeable impact on his life. This period is called the critical socialization period. His experiences or lack there of during this period cannot be changed later in life.
Needless to say social interaction with other dogs and people should be ongoing throughout a dog’s life to maintain normal social behavior. But the first 12 to 14 weeks of the puppy’s life are more important than any other time by far. It is very predictable that without effective socialization. During the first 12 weeks a dog social outlook and wellbeing is compromised no matter how much positive social exposure we give the dogs during adolescence or adulthood. In other words, if you don’t socialize your puppy during the first 12 weeks it is likely you will behavioral problems for the rest of the dog’s life.
A well socialized puppy is usually seen as a great family pet that you can trust to go anywhere with you.
For example, a good socialized puppy is
· capable of handling normal stress in her environment
· can demonstrate self-control
· can demonstrate self-calming capabilities
· can communicate effectively with other dogs
We all have heard of at least one dog that is fearful aggressive or barks at cars, other dogs and people during its daily walk. It is likely this dog was not properly socialized as a puppy.
Poor socialization can lead to
· inability to greet play or communicate with other dogs normally
· inability to form satisfying relationships with other dogs
· extreme shyness or fear in what should be considered normal and common social situations
· aggressive behavior
· inability to cope or be relaxed in the face of mild stress
· shows hyperactive behavior
· has the inability to self-calm
· and the inability to problem solve
Week six through 12 are especially important. Your puppy should be exposed to
· other dogs
· people of all ages and types including children
· Objects of all shapes and sizes and new environments
· other animals
One of the most impressionable periods there is for puppies falls in week 9 Remember that most owners do not get puppies until they are at least eight weeks old. This means a new dog owners have a very limited window of opportunity to socialize a puppy and must get serious about this task right away no other factors will influence your dog’s life more than early socialization A well socialized dog will be easier to raise and train in every way whereas a poorly socialized dog is likely to present many difficult problems to solve.
If a puppy is not socialized properly it could take months or years or as opposed to days or weeks All animals have critical socialization periods hardwired into their genetic codes we cannot change how this biological process works so we have to take advantage of it by over socializing during the critical period You cannot overdo great socialization. it’s like making a brilliant investment in the future of the puppy.
A mistake I made early in my life is to believe that socializing with another dog or two at home is the only socialization a new puppy in a family would need. if the dogs at home are well mannered this is a benefit. But it is advisable for your pup to meet other dogs outside the home to help the pup learn to how to interact in real life public situations with dogs of different shapes sizes and personalities. This is no different than it would be for a child. You wouldn’t want your child to stay home during his developmental years speaking playing with only his brothers and sisters and no one else this would make it hard for him to relate well to the rest of the world when he grows up and interacts with the public it’s the same with dogs unless you expect to have a dog that you quarantine away from the public you need to get him out to interact with others.
Enrolling in puppy classes prior to three months of age can be an excellent means of improving training strengthening the human animal bond and socializing puppies in an environment where risk of illness can be minimized. Puppy socialization classes start as early as 7 to 8 weeks of age. Your puppy should receive a minimum of one set of vaccines at least Seven days prior to the first class and their first deworming.
One last area I would like to cover. Time must be scheduled for puppies to play alone with their favorite toys. Take naps in safe places such as crates or puppy pens. This teaches puppies to amuse themselves and help to prevent problems of over attachment to owners. Continue to offer your puppy a wide variety of experiences during their first year of life is also helpful in preventing separation related behavior.
I hope you have found this information helpful and if you would like to schedule an appointment to discuss training I can be reached at 470-615-2215
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