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American Blue Lacy Dog Blog

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Puppy Socialization ~ How Important?

“From the moment our puppies open their eyes we begin their socialization. As each animal grows and develops three kinds of stimulation have been identified that impact and influence how it will develop and be shaped as an individual. The first stage is called early neurological stimulation, and the second stage is called socialization. The first two (early neurological stimulation and socialization) have in common a window of limited time. When Lorenz, (1935) first wrote about the importance of the stimulation process he wrote about imprinting during early life and its influence on the later development of the individual. He states that it was different from conditioning in that it occurred early in life and took place very rapidly producing results which seemed to be permanent.

Generally, genetics account of about 35% of the performance but the remaining 65% (management, training, nutrition) can make the difference. In the management category it has been shown that breeders should be guided by the rule that it is generally considered prudent to guard against under and over stimulation. Short of ignoring pups during their first two months of life, a conservative approach would be to expose them to children, people, toys and other animals on a regular basis. Handling and touching all parts of their anatomy is also necessary to learn as early as the third day of life. Pups that are handled early and on a regular basis, generally do not become hand shy as adults.” *Carmen L. Battaglia

CRITICAL PERIODS OF SOCIALIZATION FOR PUPPIES: With all of the studies to prove how important the first few weeks of life are, it is crucial that as breeders we socialize our puppies during the first 8 weeks of life. Ages 3 weeks to 12-14 weeks are THE most critical developmental stages of life for puppies – This is the SOCIALIZATION PERIOD. Dogs MUST BE EXPOSED to other dogs from ages 4 to 6 weeks. Dogs MUST BE EXPOSED to people from ages 6 to 12 weeks. Experts used to think we had until the dog was 16 weeks to socialize him to people, but they’ve discovered this to be inaccurate. If we fail to sufficiently socialize our puppies at this age to all sorts of dogs and all sorts of people, we will wind up having a dog that is always scared of other dogs and people. Now you can see why it’s so important for breeders to do what they’re supposed to do during these critical ages. During the socialization period, puppies need to be exposed to all situations that it’s likely to encounter during its life. THIS is the time to take your puppies to puppy kindergarten classes.

Keep in mind at around 8 to 10 weeks, puppies go through a fear period where it’s very susceptible to physical and psychological trauma, and if something bad happens during that 2 week period, the effects could be permanent and irreversible. Dog’s who experience abuse at this age, or if they have bad experiences with vets or other dogs, or ANYTHING that causes them emotional or physical harm, this poor dog will be traumatized for life by those scary events. Maybe now you’ll realize that punishing your puppies for housetraining accidents when they’re going through this fear period can cause terrible problems with your relationship. If you scare him by punishing him now, he will never fully trust you.

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