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One of the issues I am most passionate about is puppy socialization. As a dog trainer, I see what can happen when a dog isn’t given proper socialization as a puppy. The results can be significant and can include aggression with dogs and people, extreme shyness, an inability to be handled or a complete disconnection from people.
Properly socializing a puppy creates a more confident, relaxed and well-adjusted canine. Even dogs with more timid personalities can make significant strides if they are properly socialized. With your veterinarian’s approval, there are ways you can socialize your dog both within your home and in protected environments in the community in order to turn your dog into a well-adjusted adult.
While genetics can play a big part in an adult dog’s personality, socialization also has a role. The period between 3 and 12 weeks is the most critical socialization window for your puppy, but socialization can extend through 6 months of age. During this time, your puppy's brain is most receptive to learning new things.
Puppy socialization classes are an essential building block for helping puppies grow into well-adjusted adult dogs, but it is also important to socialize beyond puppy class, as one hour a week for four to six weeks isn’t enough exposure for your puppy to make full use of the socialization window.
The key to socializing is to teach your puppy to remain relaxed in a variety of situations, including those that may be outside his normal day-to-day experience. Even a country dog that will see little beyond farm life needs to meet people and dogs outside the farm, because at some point in his life, whether for a vet visit or unexpected move, he may find himself in an unfamiliar situation.
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