When you go to the breeder to pick up your puppy they always seem to have a list of information for you regarding shots and feeding. However they leave off one of the most important things that every new dog owner should know and that’s information about socialization.
New dog owners seem to always be shocked when somewhere between 12 and 24 months old their dogs start showing fear or aggression. When I talk about aggression it can be either with people, small children and even with other dogs.
One thing that seems to confuse these new dog owners is the fact that their dog is fine with their family. There doesn’t seem to be any problem with the dog showing aggression towards family members including the children and the other dogs. This is normal because other members of the family are part of the pack. Where we see this aggression I’m speaking of is towards people, children and other dogs outside of the pack.
I really feel that breeders should explain to every new puppy owner about the fact that the period of socialization for a dog is from birth to 20 weeks old. That means during that period the new dog owner needs to make every effort to expose the new puppy to strangers, little children, other dogs and this should all be done in strange surroundings not at home.
I always suggest to new puppy owners that they should take their dog to three different locations every week. For example you can stand in front of the grocery store with your dog on leash as if you’re waiting for somebody to come out of the store. As people approach let them pet and interact with your puppy it will teach it to accept new people.
You will also want to find a place for you dog to interact with other puppies or dogs. Friends and family are a good source of puppy friendly dogs at this point . Be sure that other dogs your pup interacts with are current on all vaccinations especially the parvo vaccine.
Taking your dog to new locations for this socialization is much more effective and powerful than the socialization you can do on your own property at your home.
So why don’t breeders give you this information? I really don’t know why except for the fact that they just don’t know how important it is. Remember breeders usually only have puppies until about 8 weeks old and then they are gone for ever. They don’t have to live with that fearful or aggressive dog, you do.
Remember if you socialize your dog well before 20 weeks of age you will have a great well adjusted companion for years to come.
Do you need help socializing your dog?
Until next time,
About the Author: Wayne Booth is a Canine Behavior Specialist in Nashville, TN. Wayne has been teaching people how to become Professional Dog Trainers since 1990 and he is the Training Director of Canine Behavior Specialists Network.