Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Puppy Socializing-Other Dogs

There is a vital stage in a puppy's life, usually starting at 8 weeks and ending anywhere from 16 weeks to a year, depending on who you talk to, called the socialization period. This is the time where you introduce a variety of new situations to your puppy so he grows into a well balanced dog who is used to most scenarios and open to new experiences. But one of the most important steps to proper socialization is often missed, that is the step of making sure your puppy feels safe and comfortable in every new situation you introduce him to. This holds especially true for socializing your puppy with other dogs.
The key to socializing is making sure every situation is as controlled as possible. Learn to read your dogs behavior, and be able to control the situation so as not to over stimulate your puppy and cause him to become fearful or aggressive. To name a few, this means no dog parks until your dog is, in my opinion, a year and a half to two years old, no introductions to dogs you do not know, or dogs that may react poorly, and no overcrowded places where people or children may crowd your puppy past it's comfort.
So how do you socialize your puppy with other dogs if you cannot introduce him to dogs on your walks or go to the dog park? If a puppy is taken away from the litter no earlier than 8 weeks, then he has already been through the critical dog socialization period with his mother and litter mates. From the time he comes home with you to the time he is about a year old, he will be just fine being socialized only with his pack. Meaning other dogs you may have in your household, and dogs of your friends and family whom you know will react properly around your puppy. Puppies do not need to be introduced to an abundance of new dogs in order to become comfortable and well socialized around members of its own kind later in life. It is more a matter of making sure your puppy does not go through a bad experience where he learns to fear other dogs. For example, you meet a dog on a trail and this dog starts to attack, playful or not, your puppy. This dog does not lay off your puppy, thus your puppy learns that submission does not work and becomes fearful and aggressive towards other dogs he meets. He wants to attack them before they can attack him. This behavior then carries on to his adulthood, and you are faced with an aggressive dog from that one bad experience.
Now this does not mean that a bad experience cannot happen to your dog ever. It just means that during a certain period of your dogs growth, the socialization period, all experiences should be safe and enjoyable.

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