Two common puppy socialization myths


Socialization is for every breed at every age.

Myth 1: "My breed's temperament is too sweet to need socializing."

No breed is immune to developing fearful responses, therefore every pet owner should socialize his or her dog, says Dr. John Ciribassi, DACVB, owner of Chicagoland Veterinary Behavior Consultants in Carol Stream, Ill. "A lot of times reactions don't appear until the dog is older," Dr. Ciribassi says. "It's better to assume a dog will need socialization than be disappointed in terms of the dog's behavior later on."

There are no guarantees. While evidence shows personality traits can be inherited, there's no rule that says one breed is more or less prone to behavioral issues. "It depends on the dog and its parents," Dr. Ciribassi says. "That's why it's best to look at a puppy's background. Blindly getting a dog from an unknown source is taking a big gamble."


Myth 2: "I socialized him when he was 6 weeks old. He should be good for the rest of his life, right?"

No, you can never ignore your dogs' environment and interactions, Dr. Ciribassi says. Even puppies that were well-socialized at the optimal six to 14 weeks old can go through a second fear period, usually at 6 or nine months old. And any significant incident can create fear responses in dogs at any age. For example, if a dog that played well with others all of its life was attacked by fellow dog, it would likely need to be resocialized. That's because the traumatic experience would overwhelm the original socialization, Dr. Ciribassi says. However, the better job you do socializing a puppy at a young age, the less sensitive it will be to incidents later on.

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