“Two Paws Up Tuesday”
According to veterinary behaviorists, for the first three years, your dog is more likely to die from a behavior problem than from disease. Fortunately, it’s avoidable by socializing your puppy as soon as possible.
What Is Socialization? Socialization is introducing a dog to new people, dogs and other animals, situations, and things.
Most important is that he accept people without fear. Introduce puppies to tall people, short people, ones with beards, others with hats, those with high voices and low voices, as well as people who move fast and those who go slow, like some in wheelchairs. The list of things to socialize a pup or dog to is even longer. Consider umbrellas, bikes, cars, vacuums, and sudden sounds, like recordings of thunder and fireworks.
What Is The Best Age To Do It? From 8-12 weeks of age puppies go through a fear-imprinting stage. During this time, it is crucial to introduce puppies to different stimuli every day and ensure those experiences are positive.
For example, the first time a puppy sees a car, it could be a nice experience or a scary one. A nice experience may be feeding your puppy treats next to a stationary car, and later on, taking him for a slow ride while he’s settled and secure on the seat. A scary event would be standing on a sidewalk with your puppy as a loud car goes by at highway speed. You can control this situation and help your puppy learn not to fear cars with proper planning. But be careful, you don’t want to create a situation where your pup wants to chase cars either. This will cause other behaviors that will need immediate correction.
His reaction in these early situations determines how he reacts in the future. If he’s taught to be fearful of the first new things he sees, he may adopt that mindset rather than being comfortable when encountering new things.
For older dogs with fear responses, it’s possible to change their reactions to positive responses, but it will take more time for them to learn to avoid unproductive and inappropriate responses. That’s why in the case of socialization, earlier is better!
Why Are Puppy Classes So Beneficial For Socialization? During class, puppies get to have playtime with other puppies in a controlled situation. They learn how to interact rather than being a shut-in pup whose body language gets him into trouble with other dogs.
It’s also a great time for them to get to know other puppy owners. Every pup should meet as many people as possible, we recommend at least 100 different people, before he reaches 16 weeks of age. We want them to enjoy the interaction and look forward to meeting new people.
My Little Puppy Is Scared Of Big Dogs, Should I Go To A Little-Dog Class? No!!!! We see many little dogs who are aggressive to or scared of big dogs because they haven’t been socialized correctly. If we allow a pup’s fears to stay rooted, he isn’t going to learn to overcome them. Get your dog into a training class and don’t hold back on introducing him to dogs of all sizes. That said, be sensible. Do it with a trainer who can recognize if there is an issue and can separate them if needed. Always supervise your dog’s play sessions, no matter how big or small the other dogs are.
Does Socialization Finish Once Puppyhood Is Over? Of course not. During puppyhood, you lay the foundation. Don’t let it crumble because you fail to reinforce it. Owners diligently go to a class for eight weeks and then stop. By the time the dog is three years old, you can see that his training has lapsed because he has some fear responses. It may be only to men with beards, but something small like that is how it starts. Keep the program going throughout a dog’s life!
Information courtesy of the: American Kennel Club
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Training Tip: Get the entire family involved in the socialization process by making a list of 10 new people or things your dog will meet that day and repeat the process making each day a new adventure for both you and your pup!!!