A Guide to the Whys and Hows of Puppy Socializing

  • The importance of socializing a puppy can never be over-emphasised, but what exactly does it mean? And how does one go about it? This article will explain to you what socialization is and how to put it into practice to ensure your dog has few, if any behavioural problems later in life and is able to interact well with dogs and other species.

    Socialization is the process whereby a puppy learns to recognise and interact with other individuals of its own species, with people of different ages, races and genders, and with other animals that she is likely to come into contact with, such as cats and horses. The dog will learn the skills necessary to communicate with and interpret the other animals’ intentions, thus avoiding unnecessary hostilities. The dog will also learn to cope with stress and will suffer less as an adult in stressful situations. When talking of socialization, we often include habituation, that is, getting a puppy used to different places, sights and sounds so that she becomes confident in new situations and gets used to as many different stimuli as possible.

    There are certain periods in a puppy’s development that are more important than others. The most sensitive socialization period begins at around 3 weeks of age and begins to reduce by 12 weeks. Peak sensitivity is between 6 and 8 weeks of age. It is important to remember that many young dogs need continual social interaction to maintain their socialization and failure to do so will mean that they regress or become fearful again. The 6-8 month period is another sensitive time for socialization and owners and trainers can use this window to further habituate and socialize their puppy to different surroundings, people and animals.

    So, now we know why and when socialization should be carried out, we must look at how to undertake this. It is recommended that your puppy be introduced to new stimuli and other people and pets in a systematic and controlled way. Remember that these formative experiences will shape the behaviour of your pet for the rest of her life, so the idea is that they should be pleasurable and fun. They may well also be challenging, but if done in the right way, the puppy will learn that there is no threat and that she is safe to explore and meet new friends and situations without being fearful. This ensures the best chance of her developing a sound temperament and capacity to cope in all circumstances.

    Early socialization is, of course, in the hands of the breeder and if they are conscientious and responsible they will ensure that the puppies are handled frequently, as well being exposed to normal household stimuli such as the television, vacuum cleaner, washing machine, doorbell etc. Puppies who are raised in a quiet kennel or room will have trouble adapting to a normal family environment.

    So once the puppy is at home with you, it is your job to continue carefully introducing her to different people, animals and stimuli. It is however important to introduce the puppy to new people, places, objects and situations only when you can completely control the experience. A frightening experience will be detrimental – avoid unfriendly dogs and adults and children who do not understand how to be kind and gentle with animals. Invite friends to your house soon after you bring your puppy home to teach her that guests are friendly and welcome in her new home. Give your friends treats to give to the puppy so she is rewarded. Introduce her to one or two other friendly, healthy, fully-vaccinated dogs – she can join in with bigger groups once she has all her shots and has learned some dog social skills and has over-come any fear. Always be ready to intervene if your puppy is scared, threatened or being bullied by another dog.

    When socializing your puppy, you must evaluate your lifestyle and environment and assess what situations are lacking. For instance, if you live in the country, take your puppy to town and gradually and carefully let her become accustomed to crowds of people, noise and traffic. If, however, you live in a town and these things are no problem, take your puppy to the countryside so she can see and smell farm animals and become accustomed to them too. Make sure your dog meets some cats who are dog-friendly. Don’t let her chase them as this will start a life-long habit that will be difficult to change. If your household has no children, introduce your puppy to some children who can regularly play gently with her. Always supervise them to ensure the children are gentle and that your dog is responding well and not becoming nervous or aggressive.

    Remember always to protect your puppy’s health, before she is fully vaccinated. Don’t put her down on the ground where there may be dog urine or faeces, and don’t let her interact with other dogs that may carry disease. You can still socialize your puppy by carrying her into different situations and taking her in the car, allowing her to see many different things in a safe environment and she will get used to trips in the car at the same time. Use treats and praise to reinforce good behaviour. Do not comfort your puppy if she is fearful as this can be interpreted as praise for the wrong behaviour. Simply change the situation (i.e. ask an approaching person to step back or pick up your puppy to get her out of a difficult situation) until she feels safe and secure once more.

    All interaction with your puppy at this age involves consistently rewarding desirable behaviour which will increase the likelihood the dog will repeat this behaviour. It will also help to prevent the development of undesirable behaviour.

    Another helpful step would be to enroll in puppy socialization and training class. This provides a great opportunity for puppies to socialize with other dogs, for puppies to learn obedience training in a playful environment with plenty of distractions and also for owners to learn training and communication techniques.

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    Article Source: ArticlesBase.com

    Puppy Socialization – Don’t Neglect This Important Part of Training Your Dog

    Let’s face it, as a new dog owner, you probably haven’t thought too much about puppy socialization. However, this is a very important part of dog training. Many cases of canine aggression could have been prevented if the dog’s owner had only known how to socialize a puppy.

    Why Is It So Important To Socialize Your Dog?

    When you expose your dog to lots of different people, different animals, and different places, he learns for himself that new sights, sounds, and people are fun, not scary.

    It’s better to start socializing your dog while he’s still a puppy. You may not know that the best age to socialize a puppy is when he’s between the ages of three and twelve weeks. A young dog who has good experiences with new people, other dogs, and even cats will be much friendlier and less fearful of people. This helps to prevent aggressive dog behavior towards strangers when he gets older.

    However, it’s never too late to socialize your dog. It may take a little longer with an older dog, but you can still use canine socialization in order to help your pooch overcome a fear of strangers and be a happier, more trustworthy friend.

    What’s The Best Way To Socialize A Puppy?

    Actually it’s not that difficult to socialize your dog, if you’re willing to make a little effort.

    Many dog trainers suggest a puppy preschool. This is a series of group-training classes for puppies and their owners. Usually there are about 10 puppies and their people, along with a couple of dog trainers. During these classes, the puppies start to learn basic dog obedience commands like sit, stay, and others.

    But the obedience lessons aren’t the most important part of puppy preschool. The play sessions are where your puppy learns essential social skills. During the play sessions, the puppies are let off their leashes and allowed to play with each other. Why is this important?

    First, your puppy is learning how to get along with unfamiliar dogs.

    Second, since there are other dog owners and a couple of dog trainers present, this means lots of unfamiliar people, too. This is a great way for your puppy to learn not to be afraid of new people.

    Third, it’s a controlled environment. The dog trainers make sure things don’t get too wild.

    Don’t Stop Puppy Socialization Too Soon

    Many dog owners make the mistake of thinking that since their dog has been to puppy preschool, their puppy is now socialized. This mistaken idea can lead to problems later on.

    It’s important to continue to expose your young dog to new faces, new animals, and new places. Sometimes puppies who seemed to be well socialized at a younger age “forget” those early lessons. By the time your dog is between eight months and two years old, he may become fearful of people and start showing canine aggression towards strangers.

    Here’s some food for thought: even though your puppy has learned basic skills during his first few months, it’s important to keep reinforcing puppy socialization lessons throughout your dog’s life.

    Darlene Norris worked at a vet clinic and an animal shelter, and has had lots of experience with dogs. Visit her new website, No More Bad Dogs, to learn more about puppy socialization. Discover which dog training course she recommends at http://NoMoreBadDogs.com

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    Dog Obedience Training – Puppy Behavior – 8 – 11 Weeks Old

    Puppy Behavior 8 – 11 weeks old.

    Puppy behavior is important to be able to understand as when a puppy goes through certain stages in its development their behavior will also go through changes. We will look at the stages a puppy goes through between the ages of 8-11 weeks of age and how you can learn how to train a puppy during this stage.

    Puppy Development 8-11 weeks old.

    You have just purchased your adorable new puppy and have teaken him home. However, you must try not to get to caught up with the ‘cute puppy’ phase and should start puppy training as early as possible.

    You should start basic training.
    Don’t allow strangers to scare or intimidate your puppy as this can seriously affect how your puppy interacts with humans in adulthood.
    Some dog trainers argue that this phase is so important that if you want your puppy to be a detection dog and you have not taught him the basics of the ‘fetch command’ between 8-11 weeks then they will never be able to become a detection dog

    Your puppy will want to explore his surroundings but will have a general fear of everything.
    Start socializing your puppy by introducing him to different objects.
    Use positive reinforcement to reward good behavior-give your puppy a treat and lots of praise.
    Do not be over protective with your puppy. If you give your puppy lots of attention when he becomes scared this will teach him that it is natural to be scared and when he shows fear he gets praise-never a good idea.

    Your puppy’s personality will start to really develop so it is imporant to start puppy socialization with other humans and other animals.
    Puppy parties are a good socialization tool-but don’t start introducing your puppy to walks or other dogs until your vet says it is ok.
    As a new owner you should expect crying and house soiling in the night.
    Your puppy will also cry when he is left alone-he is not used to being seperated and he is still a baby.
    Monitor fearful behavior as you don’t want irrational fears to develop into adulthood

    Your puppy may start tugging and pulling on clothes and even jumping up.
    Understand that puppy chewing may happen-but do not allow it.
    A puppy soon grows so don’t allow behavior such as jumping up to happen-if he does start ignore your puppy.
    Remember that you are the pack leader so you need to be strong and set the House rules
    Try not to let anything startle your puppy at this age-watch out for fire works parties
    You really need to start introducing your puppy to other dogs as this is how they learn to behave and respond to other dogs.
    Although Diarrhoea is common at this age due to changes in diet-if you have any worries at all you must consult your vet.

    Yo can start basic puppy training as it is a great way to communicate with your puppy and to build a string relationship-remember these golden rules when puppy obedience training:
    Be patient-remember that a puppy has a limited attention span.
    Be consistent-set the rules and stick with them.
    Positive reinforcement-always heap lots of praise on a puppy that behaves well.
    Be rational with your puppy by understanding that you are also learning how to train a puppy so will make mistakes
    Be fair at all times with your puppy and accept that their will be accidents in the House.

    Start Basic Puppy Obedience Training
    Keep pupy obedience training short and fun.
    Have lots of treats ready to give your puppy when he behaves well.
    Do not give commands in a harsh tone.
    Make sure the whole family use the same commands otherwise it will confuse your puppy.
    Practice training techniques everyday

    Puppy Behavior 8-11 weeks old – what to expect
    Fearful behavior
    Play biting and chewing
    Your puppy may chase other animals
    Crying when seperated from you or the family
    Minor destructive behavior
    Jumping up

    If you found this article on puppy behavior and puppy development useful-you may find our more indepth puppy behavior tips useful or visit our site on Dog Obedience Training for more general dog and puppy training advice.

    Tobias Charles writes on all aspects of dog and puppy training. He lives in the UK with his four dogs and devoted family. He has always had a love of animals and became interested in dog pyschology and dog behavior since studying for his honors degree at University.

    You can view his site on dog and puppy training tips here for more information.

    Article Source: ArticlesBase.com