When your puppy first comes home, his mind is a blank slate. He knows nothing about the world except that which you reveal him. Puppies aren’t born comprehending the world around them, what traffic is, what objects like leaves or worms are, how to cope with people, cars, other pets or sounds. All these are things you have to expose puppy too, making sure that he has positive experiences with each exploration. All of the sights and sounds we all take for granted in our world are a book to a puppy…he’s never seen some of it! Introducing him to every one of these items in his environment is no small task but it’s the most important thing you will ever do for your puppy.
Puppy Pictures will need to be socialized between 4 and 16 weeks old. A puppy’s brain is most accepting of new experiences between 4 and 12 weeks old which makes this the important period of socialization. In the following 4 weeks, the socialization window begins to close. If socialization does not start until after this period of time, the pup will be socially handicapped. Following four months of age, when the socialization window shuts, it is much more difficult to influence a puppy’s opinion and attitude. Of course, the pup can still learn, but it’s infinitely harder since the pup has to unlearn inappropriate responses such as fear or reactivity. For example, if a dog isn’t exposed to crowds prior to four weeks old, he may be so paralyzed with dread of the sights and sounds which audiences make, it could not be possible, or at best, embarrassing for him to cope in this situation. If the puppy is exposed to crowds prior to four months of age and introduced in a positive manner, he will accept audiences as “normal in his environment” and not be reactive or nervous about that. The secret is to ensure that your puppy gets exposed to what that he may ever be subjected to during his life, while he’s very young. Adding puppy to new experiences and stimulation is critical to getting a well-adjusted and behaviorally healthy adult dog.
Prevention is much better than rehabilitation! A properly socialized puppy is well corrected and makes a good companion. It’s neither scared nor aggressive towards anyone or anything he would normally meet in daily living. An un-socialized puppy is a liability. Common behaviours of an unsocialized dog comprise fear and stress disorders, fear biting and fearful aggression. Unsocialized puppies cannot adapt to new scenarios and a easy walk around the area can fear your pet creating hiding behaviors, pulling on the leash to get away from your “scary thing” or offensive aggression (lunging on biting biting or behaving like Cujo to frighten the frightening thing away). Don’t let this happen to your dog. Start interacting your new pup NOW!
Vaccinations and vulnerability risks
Assessing your puppy at a puppy socialization class is perfect and is generally safe. This is a wonderful chance to get your puppy out of the house on a regular basis and expose him to new conditions and adventures.
Individuals are sometimes warned not to take their puppies out in public until they are fully vaccinated for fear that the pup may catch disease. However, times have changed and veterinary behaviorists now advise that you get pup out and socialize him as soon as he’s completed his first round of shots. The danger of life-long behavioral consequences of not socializing a dog before 16 weeks by far outweighs the small risk that puppy may catch something infectious. Behavioral problems are the number one reason dogs have been euthanized in this country. And many of these issues would not have introduced from the puppy if he was properly socialized in puppyhood. Go to the link at the end of this article to read the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior position announcement relative to puppy vaccinations and socialization.
The possibilities of your puppy contracting a disease are rare but you do need to minimize risks. Only take your pup into controlled environments until he is fully vaccinated. Facilities that maintain puppy classes are usually sanitized and prepped especially for puppies. Puppies are also typically separated from regular dog traffic. Dog parks, dog beaches and any other environment where dogs could run free should be avoided. Numerous diseases are moved via infected feces and urine thus avoid places where puppy can inadvertently run through pet waste. Pet stores and boutiques are great areas to socialize your pup but carry him or put him in a cart, not on the floor, until he is fully vaccinated.
Where socialization begins
Puppy socialization should start at home. When you first bring your pup home, visit your vet for a wellness check. If all is well, begin acclimating your puppy to the noises, scents and sights of the new surroundings – your home and yard. Be patient with puppy and keep in mind that he’s never seen family things such as mirrors, TV’s, a remote controller, etc.. His vision will continue to be blurry and his mind and hearing still developing. While you’re introducing the puppy to each of the things in your home and lawn, plan a puppy celebration. Invite everyone you know to your own house for a “meet my puppy” occasion. Invite the gang over to watch a sporting event so that pup can see and listen to people having fun and getting loud! After a few days, it’s time to introduce puppy to the entire world around him and all the wonders contained within it.
The vehicle ride itself is a novel experience for dogs so don’t travel too far the first couple of times pup gets in the vehicle. Head in to town, carrying your pup around. Bring a lot of snacks, and ask everyone you see if they would like to meet your puppy to offer him a treat. There are not many individuals in this world who can resist a puppy! You want your puppy to believe that loud noises, funny smells and ridiculous people roaming the roads are perfectly normal.
If there’s significant traffic, give your puppy a treat as it moves. In case a fire engine or ambulance goes by, treat and sound happy. Truck or bus backfires? Treat and act silly! This will definitely get your pet used to all the sounds and potentially scary things that he will inevitably strike. If you introduce your puppy to road traffic and sounds in a positive way he will be comfy walking down the road with you despite loud noises and other distractions.