The Importance Of Socialization
Article By: Niki Elliot
The day you get your puppy the clock is running. Your puppy’s critical period of socialization will begin to wane by three months and it’s most impressionable learning period starts to close by five months. There is so much to teach & almost all of it needs to be taught in the first twelve weeks of getting puppy home. It is vital to know what to teach & how to teach it. Going to puppy classes, reading behaviour & training books and watching puppy videos it the quickest way to learn.
An important reason for continuing socialization and early learning for puppies in their new homes is related to the development of the puppy’s brain. Scientific, but non invasive, EEG studies of puppies show mature adult brain wave patterns by the age of 7 – 8 weeks. This means that puppies’ brains are ready by 7 - 8 weeks of age to learn to respond eagerly & quickly to people and socialization in the home and in socialization classes.
Puppies should be enrolled in socialization classes from 7 – 12 weeks of age – after they have had their first vaccination. These early learning experiences with people and other puppies, are more important to the life of the puppy than waiting until the whole series of vaccinations is complete. The risk of behaviour problems is much greater than the risk of infection for an eight-week-old puppy that has had its first vaccinations.
Puppy classes are a fun night/day out to continue socializing people socialized puppies. Your puppy must be fully socialized to people outside the puppy classes as well. Introduce your puppy to a great variety of people – to family, friends, strangers and especially men & children. Your puppy needs to meet at least a hundred different people before he is three months old. The puppy that has had actively positive experiences is less likely as an adult to spook in a challenging situation. In socializing to any category of people, the best way to obtain a solid temperament is through hand feeding.
Rather than simply having the puppy around young children, have young children hand feed the puppy small tasty treats. Each treat builds up money in the bank for young children. Socialize your puppy to men wearing hats, babies in prams, children on bicycles, drunks in the park, crowds of people, car rides, cats, other dogs, livestock, etc. the list is endless. YOU CANNOT OVERDO SOCIALIZATION. The people who are inclined to leave their dogs’ socialization to every day life, should meet the families of biters or dogs with phobias. They would hear a lot of “if only” as these dogs all appeared fine as puppies.
When puppies learn to please people early on in life, we provide a foundation for lifetime reinforcement of learning to respond eagerly & quickly. This early bonding improves companionship, interactions with other dogs and people and prevents behaviour problems that too often result in the removal from the household and ultimate euthanasia of the dog. Understanding the social and behavioural development of your puppy can help prevent problem behaviour.
Next, errorless house training & chew toy training.