Most puppies join their family when they are eight weeks old. The next few weeks are critical as they shape and influence how the puppy develops mentally and emotionally. This period is known as the socialization period. This is a key developmental phase where puppies are at their most receptive to new experiences.
Socialisation refers to the process of exposing a puppy to new things. This includes pretty much everything they will encounter throughout their life: People, other animals, environments etc
Socialising a puppy is vital as it helps them to grow up confident, friendly and outgoing.
The process involves them learning how to relate to situations and act appropriately. The experiences they go through during this developmental phase will stay with them for the rest of their life’s, so it is important that owners ensure a puppy creates positive associations.
Correctly socialized puppies will grow up to be confident adult dogs. They are highly unlikely to suffer from behavioural issues such as aggression and reactivity. Such problematic behaviour virtually always results from fear or nervousness, socialized dogs are confident and know how to react without feeling the need to display aggression.
I cannot stress strongly enough how important it is for owners to take advantage of these important weeks. No puppy is born knowing how to react appropriately to everyday life, they need to learn how to interact with people, children, other animals and respond to situations and new environments –all of which are critical life skills. It really is a case of what you put in you will get out, invest your time and both you and your puppy will reap the rewards!
When I get a puppy, my priority is to spend as much time as I possibly can to socializing him. Training etc, although important is not, in my opinion as important, so although I include it in my puppy educational and development plan, socialising comes first.