How curious are dogs
Socialization of puppies
Puppy socialization is a very important factor in a dog's life. Good socialization means that in the future you will have a pleasant companion who gets on well with other people and animals and who reacts calmly to changes in the environment. In order to be able to socialize your young dog well, it is important to have some background information about puppy development and socialization.
Socialization phase of puppies
The socialization phase of a puppy can be roughly divided into two parts.
- The first phase of socialization takes place at an age between 3 and 12 weeks.
- The second phase of socialization begins around the 12th week and lasts until the 6th month of life.
Your puppy's first phase of socialization
Young puppies usually react very impartially and curiously to everything new. This is why this phase can also be called curious phase describe. You need to learn now that these exciting things are not scary and that they are met in a neutral or positive way. The rest of the outside world must become completely "normal" for them.
The following is a quick rundown of examples of stimuli your puppy should become familiar with:
- Noise / crowds (such as a busy shopping street or market)
- other people (including people with a different skin color and people with a disability)
- other dogs
- other animals (of course all animals in the household, for example cats and rabbits, but also other animals such as cows, sheep and horses if you take your dog for a walk in a rural area)
- Water (for example, the ocean if you live nearby or want to take your dog to the ocean on a regular basis)
- everything that is part of everyday life for you and your family
- Fireworks and loud noises
- the veterinary practice
This important phase in your puppy's life should be approached with due care. It is important that you familiarize him with all unfamiliar situations, people and things. Your young dog must also have enough time to get used to new stimuli. So you must neither rush nor overwhelm your puppy. Only if he is repeated grappling with these things, he can get used to them. Never expose your puppy to too many stimuli at once or in quick succession. Your dog must have enough time to calm down.
If your puppy is anxious to respond to a stimulus, it is not ready for it. At such a moment, you can pick up your puppy and get him out of the situation. Try again later and take it slower, for example from a greater distance.
Your puppy's second phase of socialization
This stage of development is also known as the Anxiety phase designated. After the initial curiosity, your puppy will suddenly be suspicious of everything he came into contact with in the first phase. The puppy must first relearn that anything he is confronted with is not dangerous now. For this reason, it is necessary to calmly expose it to the same stimuli as in the first phase.
This is also the time when a puppy can develop a lingering fear of certain things through a traumatic experience.
Your puppy at home
Your puppy will usually come to you, its new owner, at home towards the end of the first phase of socialization. Now he has to learn what is "normal" in the household and familiarize himself with the routine in the house and his family.
There are a few points to look out for during this phase in order to maintain a well socialized dog:
- Socialization with children
- Getting used to the veterinary practice
- Socialization with other dogs
We will briefly explain to you why these points are particularly important when it comes to socialization.
Socialization with children
A child is not just a small person to a dog. A dog that has no previous experience with children can see a child as something threatening. In unfavorable cases, dogs can even develop aggressive behavior towards children if they do not learn that children (in most cases) are not dangerous, but are often particularly funny playmates. If you do not have children yourself, it is important to go to places where there are many children. This can be a school yard or a playground, for example.
Getting used to the veterinary practice
Every dog comes into contact with a veterinary practice more or less often in the course of its life. It makes sense not to wait until it is actually necessary to visit the vet. Visit the vet regularly to weigh your puppy and then give them a delicious treat. This way, your puppy will learn that a visit to the vet can be really enjoyable.
Socialization with other dogs
There are tons of different breeds of dogs and each dog looks different. Puppies need to learn that all of these other breeds are normal dogs too. Do not wait until all vaccinations have been carried out before contacting conspecifics, because then the first socialization phase is already over. To get to know other dogs, you should of course not go to an overcrowded exercise area for dogs. It is better to look around for friends or neighbors who also have a dog - and who you know have their dogs vaccinated on a regular basis. It is best to find out beforehand that the other dog is getting along well with puppies to avoid a traumatic experience.
What else your puppy should come into contact with depends on your personal environment!
What to do if your puppy has a bad experience
If your puppy should ever be anxious about a new experience, it is important to bring about a similar situation as soon as possible and make it particularly attractive to your puppy, for example by giving your dog positive encouragement. For example, if your puppy is frightened of a truck, go back to a busy street. However, keep a little more distance at the beginning and play with your puppy or give him something tasty to eat if he is not anxious.
Make sure to prevent an unpleasant event from turning into a traumatic one. This also applies to a negative encounter with a larger dog. Find a dog of the same breed that is friendly to puppies in a day and make the experience as pleasant as possible for your puppy.
The most important things again in brief
Start socializing your puppy early and stay tuned. Repeat the individual stimuli over and over until puberty. Socialization should preferably continue until about a year old. In this way, your young dog learns permanently that new things and situations are not a cause for fear and you have the opportunity to react in good time to possible changes in behavior.
Are you still a little unsure how to best manage your puppy's training? A special puppy course in the dog school can support you. Ask your veterinarian or other dog owners in the neighborhood or your circle of acquaintances about the possibility of a puppy course in your area. Please visit the dog school first to watch. Not everyone enjoys the same type of puppy class. The approach of the trainer in the puppy course should suit you, otherwise the puppy will not learn anything.
Have fun and success with your puppy!
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