Dogs are social creatures, and like humans, a lack of socialization can have devastating longterm effects on their behavior. That's why it's no joke to socialize your puppy, especially during crucial times of development. Some research suggests that this crucial socialization period is as early as 3-12 weeks of age, and that the younger a puppy is the better the chance he or she will approach new situations with an adventurous attitude.
How Socialization Effects Behavior
It's incredible how profound the effects of poor socialization can be on a dog. A poorly socialized dog may be described as neurotic; they're the dogs who hate people who wear hats or are utterly fixated on one person only. These dogs tend to do poorly in crowded environments and react strongly to noise or other environmental stimuli. It can be difficult to keep these kinds of dogs quiet or calm, especially if company comes to visit or a new dog is around.
Many people assume this behavior is determined by a dog's temperament or previous experience, but often it is the result of poor socialization. Proper socialization makes your dog well-adjusted and easy to live with, while a lack of socialization can make your dog's life (and yours) miserable.
Socialization is vitally important, so how can you ensure your pup gets the social time she needs? Here are some tips.
- Enroll in doggy daycare. Especially if you're away from the house most of the day, it can be highly beneficial to enroll your pup in a dog day camp or similar daycare solution. Choose an option with regular activities included to keep your pet active and healthy.
- Set up a doggy playdate or two. Invite friends with dogs over for a playdate in the backyard, or join a local group for dog owners. It's worth the time investment just to see your pup enjoying himself.
- Frequent local dog parks. Sporadic socialization is just as important as scheduled. Visit your local dog parks to expose your dog to many stimuli at once.