Why Does Our Puppy Need Socialization?

What do we mean with "puppy socialization"?

When we talk about puppy socialization we actually refer to the first 16 weeks of the dog's life. These 16 weeks are quite important for our puppy's life and they define our dog's character in the future.

During these weeks we will develop the character and behaviour habits of our puppy and this will last for his whole life. It will define how our puppy will relate to his family, our friends, strangers, other animals and the environment where he lives.

Socialization stimulates all the senses of the dog. It introduces and exposes our puppy to the smells, sounds, sights, tastes, and touch of his everyday life. The period of socialization prepares our puppy for many different situations and things he needs to be familiar with and makes him comfortable with them. Also it prepares our puppy to deal with new challenges which show up throughout his life in the good manner.

During socialization you build a close and very special bond with your dog that will last for the rest of his life. It depends on you whether your puppy will become an adjusted and reliable member of society or not.

We have an obligation to give our puppies a whole course of socialization and training-all dogs need them regardless of breed, regardless of where we got them. (Pet shop, shelter, etc.)

There are two basic types of puppy socialization:

Active- When we introduce our dog to several things such as walks in the park, visiting new people, car rides, obedience training, etc.

Passive- Things our puppies meet and get to know by themselves, like playing with new toys, exploring the garden, etc.

Note: Before starting your puppy's socialization you should always consult with your veterinarian because the need for educating our puppy mustn't come against the necessity of keeping him safe from diseases.

Why do we have to socialize our puppy?

- The first 16 weeks of our puppy's life is a very critical period, it's when we will shape our dog's temper, character and behaviour habits. If we fail to socialize our puppy during this period it will be very difficult to change bad habits later and fix the problems he may show in the future.

- Taking care of possible problems before they appear through socialization is much easier and tempting than trying to correct them afterwards (separation anxiety, uncontrollable barking, chewing objects, aggression towards people and other dogs etc)

- Puppy socialization is very important if we want to build a strong bond with our dog, a bond we will share with him for all his life. The more time we spend with our puppy during socialization the more benefits we'll obtain in the future.

Puppies that haven't been socialized can end up being very difficult characters than puppies that received a proper socialization.

- Your puppy's socialization has a bigger influence on its behaviour that the breed he is- it is very important.

-A puppy that is properly socialized can learn, think and process problems easier than a stressed dog or a dog full of fear- in fact the latter is very restricted to these issues.

- A socialized dog can easily accept new people or new dogs, or changes (house change) or challenges.

- Socialization prepares our dog for the challenges of everyday life. Items in the house such as the TV, the dishwasher or other animals in the house such as cats and birds will be easy for him to deal with.

- Socialization also teaches your dog how to interact without problems with other people or animals and eliminates aggression towards them.

- Last but not least, socialization feeds all the dog's senses and provides him with positive emotional and mental stimulation.

What are the problems we may face if we don't socialize our puppy?
Unfortunately the number one reason why dogs are euthanized is the lack of socialization. It is really sad that this thing happens, since it's very easy to socialize a puppy.

- If you don't socialize your dog during the first 16 weeks of its life it will be much more difficult, if impossible to do it later.

- You end up with a dog full of problems that can't fit in properly in society and can't be trusted either. It is really very sad, especially for the dog that will end up living for the rest of his life in a confined space.

- Dogs that don't get socialized are often shy, aggressive and fearful of people and animals. They also aren't very good at relating with other dogs.

- Your puppy's physical and emotional health can be endangered if he doesn't receive early social stimulation.

- Changes, unexpected events or experiences are not received well by dogs that aren't socialized. We must find the balance between making them cautious and also confident to explore and learn new things.

When does the puppy start socializing?

The puppy starts socialization from the moment he comes into this world. The puppy's mother begins this process by massaging the puppy to control the elimination, also through smell, sound and body language. Also the mother teaches the puppy discipline. The puppy's siblings also help each other by playing and interacting. They all learn to inhibit their bite and they also learn the language of dominance and submission.

The breeder's role is also crucial in the first weeks of the puppy's life. He must get them used to human contact and scent. Also he must help our puppy get accustomed with basic training.

How can we socialize our puppy?

When the puppy is about 8 weeks old we usually get it home. Right after that we must start the process of socialization. We must also be careful during his first weeks at home to avoid things that may scare our puppy (a big dog approaching, aggressive children etc) and traumatize him for ever.

House and crate training, chew toy training must start immediately and it can strengthen the behaviour we desire and also stop bad habits from appearing.
We must cuddle our puppy while talking gently to it, stroke its belly and even invite other people to do so.

Some basic training and commands such as sit, down, stay and the recall are also important during the first weeks and help build up a close bond with the puppy and also keep him safe.

Involve the puppy to your daily routine, everything you do and keep a close eye to him. The puppy must get familiar with your routine and everything that happens in the house, so that he can be relaxed in this environment and things in it like dishwasher, TV and kids.

Also the puppy must get familiar with other people in order to feel comfortable with them, ideally in the puppy's environment until his vaccinations are completed.

Most of all, we must keep in mind that all the work we do in order to socialize our puppy must have fun. It's not only a task that must be completed, but it's an excellent change to watch your puppy grow and experience new things every day. So, have a lot of fun with it.

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