Early Socialization is Critical for Your Pup | Blogs

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Early Socialization is Critical for Your Pup
Early Socialization is Critical for Your Pup

When you are out and about with your dog, have you ever encountered a person who is clutching their small dog to their chest as the furry bundle growls and spits and hisses and snarls?  The person usually says something like, "My dog just doesn't like other dogs!"  Sadly, chances are very good that the dog was not properly socialized early in life.

Professional dog trainers will tell you that you need to give your new pup "100 exposures in 100 days."  Research has shown that dogs imprint and integrate these new experiences and have a much greater chance of being open and enthusiastic (at best) and non-reactive (at a minimum) when encountering the same stimuli later in life.  But....here's the kicker:  the window begins to close at around four months (16 weeks) of age, meaning that your pup becomes less and less open to new experiences from this age forward. Start early and expose your new pup as often as possible to new animals, people, places and things.  If your new pup is shy/nervous around other dogs, find safe, well-supervised places for him/her to interact with other age-mates to work through these issues.  Local dog parks often have smaller, fenced-in areas where small breeds and puppies can interact more safely.  Dog suppliers and trainers sometimes host puppy play groups at their facilities on a weekly basis.  

Dances With Dogs in South Portland (http://www.danceswithdogsmaine.com/) was developed specifically to meet the social needs of puppies early in life.  Puppies enrolled in our nursery school spend an entire day interacting with age-mates in a safe, well-supervised indoor/outdoor facility.  Anxious, socially-fearful pups have the opportunity to grow, at their own pace, into balanced, confident dogs.  Happy, exuberant pups in the class help with this transition and once the shy/nervous pups begin to practice safety skills and see the positive results, they let go of their concerns and start to join the fun.  After just a few classes, these once-anxious pups begin to transfer their new skills and confidence out into the community and owners report back that there is less tension on the leash during walks and a confident, wagging tail when encountering other dogs.  

If there's a new pup in your life, don't miss out on this critical period for social development between eight weeks and six months of age.  Make every effort to socialize your new family member on a daily basis!  Click on the following link for full information on the recommended "100 exposures" for puppies, provided by The Whole Dog Journal, an excellent source of information regarding all things dog!  http://www.whole-dog-journal.com/issues/12_6/features/Socializing-Your-Dog_16130-1.html

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