Updated: Jul 25
Did you know your pups temperament is only partly built when they are born? Some of it IS genetic. The rest is built after birth through a process called socialization. So socializing your dog means literally building their brain to be the most relaxed, confident, friendly dog they can be.
Your puppy's socialization period is from about 3-18 weeks old. The experiences they have during this period can be extremely significant in their long term temperament.
And their long term temperament will greatly decide:
The quality of your relationship
The quality of life you can have together
So LET'S DO THIS.
Remember for better and for worse, YOUR DOG IS GOING TO CHANGE after the puppy stage. You need to use the puppy phase to build their long term temperament that you haven't seen yet. Their "true colors" such as fears, anxieties, energy level, human and dog sociability, and biddability are not likely to appear until their adolescent period (9-24 mos).
Puppies tend to be friendly, outgoing, and interested in following their human caregiver. So people think that is going to continue. But not necessarily. Not even usually. An expert can pretty accurately predict future temperaments based on puppy behavior. But it takes a lot of practical experience and knowledge of ethology (reading dog body language and behavioral cues). So most families can't.
To reduce the risk of anxiety, aggression, door darting/wanderlust, and problematic behavior as much as you possibly can, you need to work intensively during your dogs socialization period.
And if you do, the results can be amazing. I watch dogs who started out in our program as puppies age into friendly, social, relaxed adult dogs. I see them out at festivals and school fairs and doing therapy work. It makes my heart explode with joy and wonder thinking of the great life they can have because their families worked so hard during the early stage.
This blog series is designed to accompany our Puppy Socialization Program to guide you through making the most of your puppy's socialization stage.
These hand outs are provided weekly in class and are listed here for convenience