The younger you start to socialize your dog the better. Conditioning your dog to different environments, situations, people, canines and patterns, other than the ones that they are used to, is socialization. Doing this can have a profound effect on a dog’s view of life. Most times the younger the dog the better it can adapt. Socialization can also help to create a more confident, relaxed dog.
In our own experience with our rescue, Butch, he was so afraid of uncarpeted floors that he did anything, except bite us, to get away. When we finally managed to get him on to a tile floor, he began to shake uncontrollably and looked for anyway out that he could find. He settled for jumping up on a chair. There were months of work that we had to do with him all over a floor type.
There are many sad sides to the plight of an un-socialized dog. The behavior of some dogs will be perceived by us humans as abuse, but the behavior is purely from lack of socialization. These dogs will be fearful of new situations which cause them extreme stress. Sadly, this can lead to aggression and even lead to the dog being put down.
"Because the first three months are the period when sociability outweighs fear, this is the primary window of opportunity for puppies to adapt to new people, animals and experiences. Incomplete or improper socialization during this important time can increase the risk of behavioral problems later in life including fear, avoidance, and/or aggression. Behavioral problems are the greatest threat to the owner-dog bond… Behavioral issues, not infectious diseases, are the number one cause of death for dogs under three years of age."
Perhaps you are going to rescue a dog, or you had a sick puppy. You can still work with a dog on socialization at an older age. This will most likely be a long process as things should be introduced slowly. Many times you will need the help of a professional trainer as the task of socialization may be quite difficult with an older dog.
We hope this blog gives you a deeper insight as to why it is so important to socialize you pup and how many different things you should expose them to.
In her book Culture Clash Jean Donaldson says,
"it's advisable to go way overboard covering all the bases before the socialization window closes, especially for spookier breeds or individuals. This means exposing the puppy to as wide a social sphere as possible in terms of human age groups, sexes, sizes, shapes, colours and gaits. The experiences should be positive (play, treats, nothing scary) and include a wide variety of patting, handling and movement by the humans
"It also means getting the puppy used to anything it may have to encounter in later life, such as car rides, veterinary exams (make the first one or two fun rather than scary), cats, traffic, soccer games, elevators and pointy sticks."