Even though dogs have been domesticated for thousands of years, each new puppy that comes into our world must learn about humans. Often times, adult dogs that do not receive the proper socialization as puppies develop behavioral issues, causing them to be rehomed or surrendered to a shelter.
What is socialization and why is it important?
Socialization is the process during which puppies develop positive relationships with other living beings - human, furry, feathered and scaled. Puppies that are inadequately socialized may develop irreversible fears, leading to timidity or aggression. Continued exposure to a variety of people and other animals, as the pet grows and develops, is an essential part of maintaining good social skills. It is also extremely important that your new puppy be exposed to new environments and stimuli at this time (e.g., sounds, odors, locations) to reduce the fear of 'the unfamiliar' that might otherwise develop as the pet grows older.
When is the proper time to start socializing?
The most sensitive period for successful socialization is during the first three to four months of life. It is very important for puppies to have frequent, positive social experiences during these early months in order to prevent asocial behavior, fear, and biting. This is not to say that socialization is complete by four months of age, only that it should begin before that time.
Where can I socialize my puppy?
Puppy training and socialization classes are now available in many communities where, in some cases, puppies can be admitted as early as their second month. These classes can help puppies get off to a great start with training, and offer an excellent opportunity for important social experiences with other puppies and with a wide variety of people. Eight to ten weeks is an ideal time to begin classes. Since there can be some health risks when exposing young puppies to other dogs and new environments, the best age to begin your puppy in classes should be discussed with your veterinarian.
Did you know that more dogs are euthanized
as a result of improper socialization than diseases
for which we commonly vaccinate? It is critical for
your pet's well-being to socialize your puppy while
he or she is young.
5 Tips for Proper Puppy Socialization
Follow these 5 tips to help ensure that your puppy grows up to be a friendly, sociable and happy dog!
- Begin socializing your puppy as early as 8 weeks old. If your puppy has less than 2 vaccinations, carry them outside to get them acclimated to the sights and sounds of the great outdoors. After the 3rd vaccine, allow your puppy to walk and explore in clean areas outside.
- Enroll and participate in puppy socialization classes. Puppies in the class should have at least 2 vaccinations.
- Avoid dog parks and high dog traffic areas prior to 16 weeks old (or before your puppy is finished with his/her vaccinations).
- Take your puppy for short car rides! As an extra precaution, have your puppy in a secured crate or use a doggie seat or seat belt harness.
- Invite your friends and family to meet your puppy - and try to ensure that each interaction is a positive one!