Isn’t that a wonderful new puppy you have there?   He follows you around obediently and is such a snuggle bug and is totally adorable.

Six months later you might instead be unable to walk bare foot on the floor around the puppy’s area for fear of stepping in something wet since his incontinent behavior is driving you nuts.  Wasn’t he supposed to be totally potty trained in a month?  And this rambunctious youngster chewed the wooden leg of your good table, unbelievable!  This morning when you called him, was it your imagination or did he run the other way?

You have tried to be the perfect mom to this fur boy.  You have spent hours cleaning up after him, kept him inside and protected him from your sister’s sweet, little puppy who wants to play too rough. You know another puppy playing too rough can’t be healthy for your dog, right?  Now he hides when that puppy comes to visit and he actually growled at that pup. What in the world is wrong?  Did you get the wrong puppy? Do you even want to keep this dirty, naughty dog?

Nearly all puppies can be wonderful if the owners know what to do.  Unfortunately, between five to six million puppies and adult dogs are euthanized every year as a direct result of human error plus a lack of socializing and proper training.

And so what does it mean when we say socialize your puppy early?  What is early? There is a window of time that is the best for socializing your dog and it depends a lot on the actual dog, the breed and the individual personality.  But it’s generally agreed the best time to socialize the pup is between 4 and 20 weeks old.  This, also, is the time when your pup may not be fully vaccine protected so it presents a dilemma and use caution. But here’s the problem in not socializing your dog at this time:  Whatever is presented as safe to your dog during this time will be safe for his lifetime.  Whatever is not presented during this time can be feared or cause anxiety for his lifetime. Why is this a problem?

Puppies must be socialized to humans, other dogs, new circumstances and a variety of things very early for the best results. However,  remember that learning is a life-time process and even old dogs are still learning too.   Our Socializing Puppies is a series of articles.  Please read the rest of the series.

Dogs are autonomous, intelligent, social and independent beings.