According to the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) website, socialization is the process of preparing a dog to enjoy interactions and be comfortable with other animals, people, places and activities. Ideally, socialization should begin during the “sensitive period” which is between 3 and 14 weeks of age for puppies. This definition beautifully explains the goal of puppy socialization. I would also add that it is crucial to ensure that puppies have positive experiences in all socialization contexts, so they can build positive associations for the future. Sounds pretty good so far.
And yet, here is when things get murky. When information about socialization gets disseminated to dog parents, the focus of it immediately becomes my dog needs to be friendly with other dogs. While that is one element of puppy socialization, it’s not the end all and be all.
Let’s complicate the matter even more. The critical socialization period for puppies closes at around 14 to 16 weeks. And puppies don’t have their full set of vaccines to protect them from various infectious diseases until they are about 18 weeks old. What are puppy parents to do? Are there ways to socialize puppies safely? Don’t fret, puppy parent, below is a brief list of tips to help you safely socialize your puppy, as well as a few dos and don’ts:
About the Author
Tatiana Yastremski, M.A. CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, IAABC CSB-D, is Knowledge Assessed, Certified Professional Dog Trainer, Knowledge Assessed Certified Canine Behavior Consultant, and IAABC Certified in Shelter Behavior, specializing in dogs. Her dog behavior and training experience is very diversified through her work with shelter dogs and private training. In her dog training business, Totally Trainable, LLC, Tatiana's objective is to help humans and their dogs build a bond of trust through positive reinforcement training, clear and succinct communication, patience and love. Tatiana specializes in aggression, reactivity and fear-based behaviors.