Friday, January 17, 2014

Socialization Window - Helping your puppy grow

Socialization is extremely important when it comes to your young puppy. Puppies may seem happy-go-lucky and invincible, but that behavior will not necessarily translate to adulthood unless you reinforce those behaviors by socializing your dog. Letting dogs learn to interact in new situations as puppies is important because it creates the building blocks to a successful adult dog. 

There are many lifelong benefits to presenting your dog with new scenarios while they are young. Introducing them to other people, other dogs, new situations and different environments while encouraging positive interaction is especially critical during what is called the “Puppy Socialization Window.”

Puppies under sixteen to eighteen weeks old are in this window, which essentially means that puppies are a sponge; they will soak up everything they are exposed to. Failing to socialize your dog during this time period can lead to serious issues, including behavior problems during their adult life. Begin socializing your dog as much as you can during this young age.

“It should be the standard of care for puppies to receive such socialization before they are fully vaccinated,” according to The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior. Somewhere between sixteen to eighteen weeks, the puppy reaches their socialization deadline. What your dog has been exposed to prior to this point will shape what type of adult dog your puppy will be.

This is great if you get your dog at a young age, when they are clearly in their socialization window, but what happens if you adopt an older dog who wasn’t socialized as a puppy? Just because you have missed this socialization window doesn’t mean you can’t help your dog, however it will be a much bigger challenge. With an under socialized adult dog, you have to paying close attention to the signals that they give you and make sure you are not intentionally making your dog uncomfortable. Although you want to expose your dog to new things, if they are nervous, they are past the point of becoming used to something new and continued exposure may scare them. Consult the above chart, courtesy of Sara Reusche of and doggie artist Lilli Chin for more information on reading your dog’s signals.

A dog that has been well socialized is able to go out confidently into everyday situations. For those that aren’t, the world can be extremely frightening and this can limit what you will be able to comfortably do with your dog. Get out and allow your dog to interact with other people, pets and places as much as possible, at as young an age as possible. However, if you are having certain issues with your dog, it is best to seek the advice of a professional. Morris K9 Campus offers a variety of different solutions for many issues that you may be having along the way. We offer Free Saturday Puppy Classes for dogs under the age of 20 weeks and fun, interactive training classes to help any dog grow into the well-socialized pet you know they can be.

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