Socializing your pup may be one of the most important things you do for her. Afterall, she is a member of your family and she has to learn to play well with people, and other animals. A well socialized puppy is more confident, healthy and stays safe in chaotic situations such as travel and moving.
Socialization can prevent many behavioral issues in the future. The early weeks and months of a pup's life could dictate their wellbeing and your lifestyle! So here are a few pointers on when, how and what to do to socialize your pup.
The critical socialization period for puppies is between four and twelve weeks. By week five, puppies are aware of their surroundings and are interacting with other puppies as well as people. Good, positive experiences with people and other dogs from weeks five to seven is essential in developing normal socialization skills in puppies.
By week seven you can begin to house-train a puppy. During weeks eight through ten, puppies will often go through a normal “fear” period. They may be easily startled and bark at unfamiliar people, animals or sounds. This can be helped with training and positive reinforcement so its important to continue socializing her.
Weeks nine through twelve are very critical in helping your puppy develop essential socialization skills. It is during this time that puppies and their parents can actively work on social skills by interacting with humans, dogs, and other animals
Once your pup is three to six months old, some things get a bit easier to manage. Puppies will understand social ranking and hierarchy and more amenable to social situations with bigger crowds or dog parks. That said, chewing and teething are common problems at this time but these can be addressed with toys and crating.
It's not often discussed but good to know that at 4 months, a puppy may go through another normal “fear” stage. This one may be slightly different in that the pup may bark or be afraid of different people and objects than previously.
Past the age of 6 months, you will notice that your pup knows her place in the pack though she may still challenge her human counterparts. This is around the time when she will become sexually mature and if she isn't spayed or neutered, she may exhibit behavioral problems related to hormones. Mounting and urine marking indoors are common behavioral problems generally seen in intact male dogs though sometimes female dogs will also mark their territory. Other behavioral problems can also occur in adult dogs, but that's another blog for another day.
In a nutshell, socialization can save your pup's life if they are ever lost, run away or during a disaster. A well socialized puppy is a pleasure to be around and will get better care from any helpers you may hire as well.
If you are curious about the best ways to socialize your pup, drop us a note and we will help you get started!
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