There are many misconceptions about socializing your dog, some of which can be very damaging and actually set your dog back in life. Dogs that have missed out on socialization often suffer from life long fear and may develop aggression problems as a result. The number one cause of dogs ending up in shelters is due to behavior issues, many of which can be traced back to a lack of socialization!

What is Socialization?

Socialization is safe exposure of your pet to any and all stimuli they could encounter in the world done in a positive fashion. Properly socialized your dog will develop to be confident and savvy throughout their life, having little difficulty adjusting to new places, people, or things. Most importantly, you’ll have a much easier time training your dog and getting him to listen when you need him to!

5 myths and misconceptions about Socialization 1

Myths and misconceptions

Myth #1 – My puppy has to have all his vaccines before I can socialize him.

This is absolutely not at all true! The most important time for puppy socialization to occur is before the first 3 months of life. The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior advocates for socialization to begin before all vaccines are completed and supports this as a standard of care. This early time period in your dog’s life is crucial for establishing their development through their life.

Myth #2 – The more people, loud noises, and other dogs that my puppy interacts with the better off he will be.

This is a major misconception that people have about socializing their new puppies, and while owners mean well, this kind of socialization can be very damaging and actually set your dog back. It’s akin to throwing a child into the deep end of the pool in order to teach them how to swim. If treated this way, extra work may be required later to help a dog adjust properly. Often they are not able to reach their full potential because of this setback.

Myth #3 – My new puppy will learn all he needs to from my older dog

This unfortunately is a common stance that many take. There are things that a new puppy will learn from the older dog, but many can be the exact opposite of what we’re trying to teach a new pup! Reactivity, territorial behavior, aggression, nervousness, fear, and resource guarding are all behaviors that are catching between dogs. Even if your first or current dog has none of these issues, work will need to be done to ensure the pup doesn’t develop problems.

To put this into human terms, imagine moving to an apartment where everyone was uncontrollably terrified of the landlord. Wouldn’t that make you at least uneasy? What if other tenants would try to steal your belongings at night? The stress from these things would probably create other conflict in your life too; depending on how long you were in these kinds of situations there could be lasting impact.

Myth #4 – Taking my puppy to the dog park is the best way to socialize my dog!

This fairly wide spread myth is completely untrue. Scuffles, misbehavior, and out of control dogs are common occurrences at dog parks, which can pose a real threat to your pup. One of the most vital parts of socialization is being able to control the environment, and the dog park is completely unsuitable for that! There is also the risk of disease, as most dog parks do not have any restriction on dogs who are not fully vaccinated. Overall it is not a good place to try to socialize your new puppy. There are many better options!

Myth #5 – Puppy classes are great places to socialize my puppy. The best part is how much playing they get to do together!

Good puppy classes have interaction between the puppies, with focus mainly on training and proper socialization. In fact, the interaction between the pups should be the minority of what the class encompasses. Learning how to function and listen to you around other dogs in a new environment should be the main objective!

What does Proper Socialization look like?

It’s actually quite easy to socialize your pup to new things! A safe place for socializing needs is to be controllable and low risk for disease. Cars are especially useful, you can safely allow your puppy to observe the world from a place they feel secure. Our end goal is a puppy who is unfazed by what’s happening around him and instead ready to focus on you!

Parks, pet stores, and other places that have high wildlife and pet traffic can be risky because of disease. In these places it is better to carry your puppy if you must pass through, but should be avoided. Physical contact between strangers and strange dogs is risky too for the same reason.

Socialization is a key part of raising a good canine citizen, but it can be daunting if you have to go it alone. Reach out to get the support you need and onto the path of raising your puppy to be the best they can!

Check out how I’m socializing my puppy Froot!

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