Socialization is Critical

Socialization is crucial during the puppy phase.

7/31/20233 min read

The first 3 months of your puppies life they are in a critical socialization period. This socialization period is crucial as it changes their brain anatomy in significant ways. The longer we wait the harder it becomes to undo. I want you to all picture clay sitting on the table. You can play with it, mold it, and make fun things. However if you forget about the clay and never use it then it will dry out and you can no longer mold it. Like the clay, the puppy's brain as it gets older becomes harder to shape and change.

Socialization does NOT mean that your puppy has to be playing with every dog or person. Yes, of course planned out introductions that are positive can be very helpful! However, just being in the environment around new people or dogs can create an impact.

Your puppy will not start to show the signs that they were under socialized until they are a bit older. As they get older if they begin to show signs of anxiousness, reactivity, or aggression then you will want to take action as soon as possible. It is normal for puppies to be curious and friendly towards new things. It is important to continue to socialize them even if they seem curious and friendly as once they start to get older then that is when you will begin to see the change in their behavior.

If you have missed the time frame then it's okay! Do your best to start now and get your dog used to different sounds, textures, voices, people, other dogs, etc. The most important thing is to go SLOW and take your time. We don’t want to force anything and then develop a fear of it. Use your treats, kibble, toys, or praise to try and encourage your puppy and show them it is okay.

If you are planning to get your puppy from a breeder then I would be asking the breeder a lot of questions. Primarily, I would ask if they are going to be beginning the socialization process. Because the socialization period is so short it becomes crucial that the breeders are doing their job to help as well. They should be introducing the puppies to lots of new things before the puppies go to their forever homes.

When we were looking for a new puppy for my husband it actually didn’t take us that long. We knew that he was slowly going to be looking but we were in no rush. Through my work I found out about a breeder whose dog had more puppies then she was expecting and she was looking for more homes. We went to look at the litter and within the first while had already decided which puppy we would be bringing home.

When we went to see the litter they were only about 3 weeks old. The breeder wanted to keep the puppies until 10 weeks (which is becoming more common) to ensure that they were through some of their fear periods and to help socialize them. Dylan, and I agreed quickly that this was the best plan. She was an outstanding breeder and was so driven to ensure the pups were going to be ready for the real outside world. She got them exposed to a diverse range of people, farm animals, being in cars, crates, toys, new foods and treats, men with beards, young kids, etc.

If she continues to breed dogs I will always recommend her for being so thorough and making sure that all of the pups were already beginning their socialization journey. I would encourage you to do the same as well. Do not be nervous to ask the breeder what they are doing to socialize their puppies and set them up for success moving forward. If you would like help talking to the breeder and making sure that it is a good fit for yourself and the dog then let me know and I will do everything I can to help you out! If you need help ensuring that your puppy is properly socialized, or if your adult dog needs more socialization please reach out.