Socialization - Why is it so Important?


What is socialization and why is it so important? 

Socialization is preparing our dogs to greet new experiences with calm and confidence. It is teaching our dogs to be social with other dogs and other people. With puppies we have a window of time from three weeks to around sixteen weeks when they are most comfortable accepting new experiences. After that it becomes more difficult. If you bring an older dog into your life who has not been socialized, you will need to be very patient and comitted to helping your dog successfully greet new experiences. Going about it slowly with a lot of love will help your dog trust you and perhaps trust some of the new experiences. In some instances you may have to protect your dog from experiences he/she has been unable to embrace. Doing your best with your dogs best interest will provide the best possible outcome. Inviting the help of a professional trainer may also be an option. 

Socialization is (like training) a life long experience.

Truly a dog can have a new experience  every day of his life. A socialized dog can greet these new experiences with calm and confidence. Sometimes dogs are more comfortable with people and not comfortable with other dogs. Sometimes a dog is comfortable with other dogs and not with people.

It is important to socialize dogs to other dogs and to people.  

When a puppy or a dog of any age joins your family, you can invite friends and neighbors over to meet your dog and welcome and celebrate your new family member. This way your dog or puppy will have a chance to meet people with beards, wearing bright colors, glasses, hats, high voices, lower voices, tall, short, and many more new experiences. Taking your dog on walks or to scheduled play dates or even a well supervised dog park can give your dog opportunities to meet other dogs. These events need to occur as often as possible. I took my dogs to meet persons in uniforms. I asked kids with skateboards to let my dog sniff the skate board. Any time I asked someone to engage my dog in a socialization opportunity, they were always more than happy to do so. 

Socialization is helping our dogs become familiar with the environment they live in.

It is a way to make their world bigger and more interesting. Socializing our dogs helps reduce any anxiety they feel about being in a new situation. The more opportunities our dogs have to successfully master a new experience builds their confidence and when they have the next new experience they can face it with more confidence and less anxiety. Over time the result is a more confident and more relaxed dog. 

I am always taken aback a bit every time some one comments on how "calm" my dogs are. 

I am mot sure why I have that reaction. Perhaps it is because I live with my dogs and experience their calm demeanor every day. It does seem whenever someone meets my dogs they comment on how calm they are. I truly believe that is a result of the socialization and the training they have experienced, which by the way continues to this day. As I said, training and socialization are life long. 

A dog who is trained and socialized is truly a joy to live with. May you and your dog/s know much joy in your life together.