Puppy Socialization, What It Is and How To Do It
A Guide for Dog Owners & Breeders
This is the period in a dog’s life where what happens or doesn’t happen for better or worse profoundly affects its entire life. In general terms this is the period in a dog’s life beginning approximately at three weeks of age and ending also approximately at twelve weeks of age.
A dog’s critical socialization period is THE a part of their lives where whatever they experience from the perspective of sound, sight, smell, touch and relationship will impact them in a positive or a negative way for the rest of their lives.
When breeders and then dog owners fail to actively expose puppies to the vast range of experiences, both urban and rural from a sound, sight, smell and touch perspective and with human contact from the perspective of age, gender and ethnicity it is a dog’s natural wiring that puts it into a state of anxiousness and fearfulness. As such, contact is generally unavoidable once the dog’s critical socialization period has come to an end the dog must live a live of periodic or ongoing anxiety often resulting in behavior that makes it impossible to coexist in the average dog owner’s life. Many live lives laced with emotional upset, others are euthanized.
Failure to properly socialize is irreversible and is one of the most common and most serious forms of neglect inflicted on dogs and the majority of the responsibility for this falls squarely on the shoulders of the average breeder and the average purchaser by default must make up for lost time the moment the puppy becomes theirs.
Unbalanced socialization and its traumatic effects are not unique to dogs; it is common to other social species as well.
“In humans, the absence of love and cuddling increases the risk of an aloof, distant, asocial or sociopathic individual. Over mothering can also have its detrimental effects. It occurs when a patient insulates the child from outside contacts, or keeps the apron strings tight, thus limiting opportunities to explore and interact. In the end, over mothering generally produces a dependent, socially maladjusted and sometimes emotionally disturbed individual.”
The time line of three to twelve weeks as an opportunity to socialize with is not written in stone as in exactly 21 days to exactly 84 days. As you will soon learn there are significant variables. However, suffice to say it is as an important a consideration if not as it is in my opinion when making decisions about purchasing a dog more important then breed, bloodlines, training methodologies, veterinary care, nutrition etc. The mental well being of the dog affects the relationship it will have with its environment and more importantly with its owner and the dog owner has an opportunity to influence it for the better. – 73 pages
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