Let me talk to you for a minute about something that is extremely important as a dog owner, socialization. When you take on the ownership of a new puppy, it is your responsibility to properly socialize this young life to make sure they become well-adjusted members of the family. If your pup will be 50 pounds or larger when it is full-grown, it is of the upmost importance that socialization occurs often and with happy interactions.
Getting your pup used to meeting new people and not being stressed in new environments or situations will be beneficial to your pup, your life and even your wallet.
Just like in humans, our animal companions can get stressed out. This stress causes the body to release adrenaline and cortisol hormones, causing heart rate and respiration to increase and suppress the immune system. They can also develop diarrhea, constipation, and decreased appetite just to name a few. All of these symptoms can snowball out of control and have lasting negative affect on your pet.
Trips to the vet can be scary enough. The smells and sounds can be stressful enough but add the stress of being afraid of new environments, other pets and new people and that can be catastrophic. Dogs can and will bite out of fear and aggression. Both aggression and fear can derive from stress. Why not decrease the stress and chancing of someone, someone’s child or pet from being bitten by doing your part and socializing your pet?
You don’t have to be in the veterinary hospital to have your dog bite someone or someone’s animal. If you are walking your dog or if your dog happens to run off your property, they can hurt or kill out of a lack of proper social skills. This can really impact your wallet. You may be facing a lawsuit for damages caused by your pet. PA dog law officers could deem your dog a “dangerous dog” and you could be facing up to $2,000 annually.
So what can you do to socialize your dog? Puppies from 7 weeks to 4 months of age, will go through a socialization period that permanently shapes their personality. Introducing them to a wide variety of positive experiences allows them to become comfortable in the new world they live. Remember to go slow and take baby steps. Try to avoid doing too much too fast. It’s a good idea to get your puppy used to children but don’t walk into a preschool with the puppy. Have one or two children who know how to properly meet and be around a dog first.
Touch is very important to all living things. Getting your puppy used to being held, having their ears, mouth, head and paws handled can make getting examined by the veterinarian less scary. Allowing them to walk on different types of floors (carpet, hardwood, tile and linoleum), walk up and down stairs and even stepping up on a scale will be beneficial in the long run. We at MVVS, welcome “happy visits” for puppies to get used to coming to the vet, the smells, sounds, flooring, scale and staff. We usually recommend puppies come in for happy visits between 11:30am-1:30pm on days we are open.
Praise and treats are part of the process to make sure these experiences are positive and fun. Keep in mind, even your young pup can read your emotions, so if you are nervous or stressed about a situation, your puppy will think they need to be worried too. The picture below shows a more relaxed positions for the owners so their puppies can greet each other.
Having a puppy socialization checklist can help you make sure you are having your pup experience many different things.
Even if you adopt a dog older than 4 months, they can still benefit from socialization training using the same techniques. If this seems a little overwhelming or you would like help; trainers, behaviorist and us are here to help.