The Benefits of Puppy Socialization for Veterinary Professionals
What is Puppy Socialization?
Brie Blakeman, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, founder/behavior consultant at Noble Woof Dog Training in Oregon, discussed the importance of puppy socialization during her lecture at the Western Veterinary Conference (WVC) in Las Vegas, Nevada. Socialization is the process of teaching puppies what is safe and not safe with interactions with humans and other animals. Starting at a young age is crucial as puppy development has a sensitive period for socialization in 3-12 weeks of age,2. Still, behavioral markers are usually preferred since this period can vary across breeds. Giving a puppy adequate socialization during this period is necessary to prevent unwanted behaviors like fearfulness, anxiety, and aggression; these behaviors are not easily modified after this early development period.
The Risks of Inadequate Socialization
Blakeman explained that the risks of inadequate socialization could be undesirable behaviors or fears, a damaged bond with their person, and in severe cases, potentially rehoming or euthanasia.1 She advised veterinary professionals to educate and communicate these lessons to clients with new puppies to prevent these risks.
Quality Over Quantity
It’s important to remember not to overwhelm a puppy, and Blakeman stated that quality over quantity is critical for socialization. Dog parks pose several dangers, but in terms of socialization, they can also cause flooding. Blakeman recommended slowly integrating socialization and checking in to ensure the puppy is still comfortable to avoid the dog becoming reactive to aggressive towards specific triggers. &#8220; We want to become well acquainted with subtle signs of stress from our dogs to communicate that to clients,&#8221; she said.
Proper socialization can be crucial for a puppy’s development and later life. From a young age, puppies can learn what is safe and not safe through interactions with humans and other animals. Veterinary professionals should educate and communicate these lessons to clients with new puppies to prevent the risks of inadequate socialization, such as undesirable behaviors or fears, a damaged bond with their person, and in severe cases, potentially rehoming or euthanasia. Quality over quantity is critical for socialization, and it is essential to remember not to overwhelm a puppy.