We expose our puppies to as many new situations, sounds, places, things, animals, and safe surprises as possible during the third and fourth months of life. They are outgoing more than fearful during this period, and so this the easiest time for them to learn. Dogs can still be taught after this period, however it is more difficult as undesirable fears and behaviors must be unlearned and replaced with desired responses.
Responsible owners disagree on the best time to start:
- Start socialization earliest possible, including puppy classes at week 9 or so.
- Start socialization early, avoiding contact with dogs and ground they visit.
We are more comfortable in the second group. I’ve worked from home with Kitto right next to me for the first three weeks. I’ve been working with him as often as possible on as many different early development skills as we can handle. We’ve arranged for many visitors to come over to meet and play with him during this time, and taken him outside for “carries” so he can learn about the neighborhood. He’s met a neighbor’s dog from four feet away and been a part of my interactions with jogging and working neighbors and their dogs (from farther away). We go on short car trips a couple of times a week. Though Kitto does get “me time” when he wants it, we all prefer to be together.
Kitto will be twelve weeks old tomorrow, and he gets his third set of vaccinations the day after. We will start our vet’s socialization classes next week. Vaccinated puppies are allowed earlier, but we wanted to wait out the first three weeks. In some ways, it will be like starting Kindergarten at 6 years old instead of 5. There will be some plusses and some minuses, and we feel good about them.
This page will act as a journal so you can follow along with us as we do our best to raise Kitto to be a Family Dog. Your dog and your journey are different, uniquely yours. Have fun and give your dog your best. Yours will be a Family Dog too!
(Journal links will be off of the main menu under Kitto Katsu.)
AVSAB Position Statement On Puppy Socialization (American Veterinary Society)
Early puppy socialization classes: Weighing the risks vs. benefits (Veterinary Medicine)