June 17, 2021 | General
Dr. Karen Shaw Becker – https://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2020/02/21/well-socialized-puppy.aspx
Puppies, like children, can’t grow into healthy, well-balanced adults without our help and guidance. I say this often: “Good puppies aren’t born, they’re made.”
You’d never dream of restricting your child to your house or yard all his life, or suddenly decide to begin parenting him long after he’s developed objectionable behaviors or habits. Yet that is the situation many puppies grow up in, and then their humans can’t understand how their cute little pups turned into misbehaved, destructive or aggressive animals.
The explanation is simple: dogs are social animals and require regular interaction with the humans and pets in their immediate family, as well as with other people and animals, beginning very early in life, and continuing throughout their life. Puppies go through several development stages on the road to maturity:
It’s your responsibility as your pup’s guardian to take maximum advantage of each sensitive stage by providing age-appropriate social and learning opportunities. Puppies who aren’t properly socialized during their first 3 months are at dramatically increased risk for behavior problems like aggression, fear, and avoidance.
Dogs with problems stemming from lack of early socialization fill animal shelters and rescue facilities in every city and state across the U.S.
Socialization means exposing your little one to as many new people, animals, environments and other stimuli as possible without overwhelming her. Over-stimulation of a young puppy can result in behaviors that are the opposite of what you’re hoping for — such as excessive fear, withdrawal or avoidance — so knowing how much is enough is important. A well-socialized puppy:
Socialization should engage all of your puppy’s senses though exposure to the sights, sounds and smells of daily life. This exposure will help her develop a comfort level with new and different situations, with the result that she’ll learn to handle new experiences and challenges with acceptable, appropriate behavior.
Dogs who haven’t been adequately socialized often develop entrenched fear responses and generalized anxiety, resulting in behavior problems that can make them very difficult to live with. In fact, almost half of all dogs relinquished to shelters have at least one behavior problem — aggression and destructiveness are among the most common.
These behaviors are often rooted in the fear and anxiety that develops as a result of improper or incomplete socialization.
Always remember that socializing your puppy should be an enjoyable, satisfying experience for both of you — one that will pay dividends for the rest of your life together. There is no greater joy than a well-adjusted, balanced canine companion.