Socialization..right or wrong?


Photo: ccho
Photo: ccho

The other day I came across a thread on a dog forum I regularly frequent. It questioned the need for socialization as defined by Ian Dunbar and others. That is, a puppy should meet a 100 people  (20 of them children) by the time the dog is 12 weeks old..aka the end of it’s “socialization period”.  Advocates for this type of socialization argue that without this degree of socialization, you are setting yourself up for an unstable/reactive dog later.

Socialization is emphasized even more for people who own more aloof type breeds (like German Shepherds); after all you don’t want a powerful breed becoming reactive warn the advocates.

Others argue that genetics are more important for a stable temperament and socialization is used to round things off.

Throw in the vets warning about parvo and avoiding basically everything until 16 weeks (when standard vaccinations are done)…missing the all important socialization window.

What is an owner to do?

I don’t think anyone believes placing a puppy in an non-stimulating bubble is the answer but how much socialization is ok…and what really is socialization anyway?

Ian Dunbar’s camp implies that it involves actively meeting people…unfortunately this can mean your overly enthusiastic but well meaning neighbor picking up and hugging your new puppy. Depending on your pup’s personality..this may be too much too soon.

Leerburg states the goal of socialization is to have your pup learn to ignore these “distractions”.

Personally, I (and this is one of the few times I will say this) agree with Leerburg…socialization should be teaching the puppy to ignore the environment as much as possible and I believe this is better accomplished by slow exposure rather than a jam packed “to do list”. But I am no expert so I highly recommend you check out what Karen Pyor has to say on the subject.

In a nutshell..go ahead and get out with your pup focus on making it positive and put down those socialization bucket lists!




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