Did you know, whatever dogs are not exposed to as puppies can develop into irrational fears later in life?
In some ways, dogs are very similar to children. Imagine if you never let your toddler around other toddlers. What kind of behavior problems do you think your child would have? They might have a hard time making friends. Maybe they would be extremely shy or nervous when other kids were around. Perhaps even become violent toward them out of fear or anxiety. Dogs are the same in that way. So what’s the difference between dogs and kids? Well, dogs have much bigger teeth, cannot speak English to explain themselves and can be euthanized for those behaviors.
The importance of socializing
It’s crucial for puppies to be introduced to everything they may encounter as adults. Not only that, their mental development needs it as they grow. They need this both to establish confidence for when they’re adults, and to learn there is nothing to fear. So what do you think would happen if a five-year-old dog was introduced to children for the first time? Dogs don’t know how to handle children if they’re not exposed to them as puppies. The chances of a child getting bit are quite high. On the other hand if that same dog had been around children as puppies they would have no fears. The previous exposure would have given them the knowledge and understanding they would need as an adult. (see blogpost socializing puppies with people).
It’s also an essential part of their up bring to socialize dogs with other dogs. The time they spend interacting with each other teaches them everything they need to grow into confident adults. They teach each other appropriate behavior, how to react when they’re being too rough, etc. Dogs are pack animals. It’s a shame to deprive them of something that’s so important on so many levels. It is our responsibility as a society to understand dogs better so we can all live together in peace.
My one caution is proper supervision. Every dog has a different home life and experiences. In our society it’s not an equal playing field. Interactions and play should be supervised. Never let the play get too intense or out of hand. Supervise the play and make sure it stays light, fun and stress free. Play can turn into aggression very quickly so keep it light.
Written by Brenda McBurnie, Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Natural Nutrition
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