Hello John Wade,
My name is Joel and i am the owner of a 11 week old basset hound puppy named Miles. I am interested in puppy socialization classes for him when he is old enough to be around other dogs. His third and final booster is in the middle of November. Are there any puppy socialization classes at the end of November or beginning of December? How much do the puppy socialization classes cost?
The term puppy socialization has come to mean various things in recent years. All of them wrong with one exception, that being the one which is based on the very thorough research done in the 1950’s. As I understand (and have written about it in my book “Socialize Your Puppy for Everything” a dog’s socialization period is between 3 and 12 weeks of age (+/- 1 week either direction) and is when they become positively or negatively (through bad experience or lack of exposure) acclimatized to the sounds. sights, smells and textures they are most likely going to encounter in their future world. I have recently noticed that some dog trainers are suggesting that the socialization period extends to 16 weeks of age but have found no scientific evidence to support the claim. I suspect the reason has more to do with marketing.
Many people believe that socialization only pertains to getting used to other dogs. Even then the typical puppy socialization class as is offered to the public by inexperienced dog trainers occurs well after that window has passed. As I say, socialization was thoroughly studied in the 50’s and not much has changed. The period where dogs learn social cues from other dogs starts about 3 weeks of age and ends at about 6 weeks of age.
While there are advantages with some (yours is one) but not all breeds to cultivate ongoing social interaction skills with other dogs as they mature and throughout their lives I do not recommend a once a week type class to do so. The potential for harm is great and I would suggest there are much better ways to go about it. These classes backfire for a variety of reasons, too many to cover in an email.
I’m sending to the email you provided a “cheat sheet’ about socialization that will be of help. As you’ll see while socialization is critically important to a dog’s future well being most of what it encompasses can never be covered in a class and you are personally in the best position to accomplish it by intelligently venturing out on outings designed to positively expose your dog to true socialization.