Puppy of the Month

Bear is a 6 month-old Labradoodle.


Favorite Activity:
Joining the family for rides in the van.


Life's Ambition:
To wear all the shoes she has stolen.


Favorite Socialization Spot:
The children's bus stop.


OS Certified Trainer™:
Patti Hight of WOOFS! Dog Training Center LLC.

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Socialization Information

Socialization is the process through which your puppy becomes comfortable with his environment.

beagleWhat does that mean to you? That any situation you'd like your dog to happily accept as an adult— including interacting with people, animals, and things—you must introduce him to frequently and positively before he reaches four months of age. But puppies love everything already, right? For the most part they do, until the early stage of their development draws to a close.

Up until three to four months of age your puppy's brain is very open and accepting of what he comes across--the so-called critical socialization window. After that, your puppy is genetically pre-programmed to become wary of unfamiliar things and that makes it much harder to shape him into an easygoing, friendly adult dog.

That's Why Early Socialization Is So Important

Today, dogs are exposed to new things all the time: Crowded sidewalks, children playing, lawnmowers, buses, mail delivery people, cyclists, etc. And dogs who have been positively exposed to a lot of people, places, and things as young puppies are much less likely to come across something completely foreign to them as adults, and better able to handle it when they do.

Early socialization serves as a behavioral vaccination for your dog. Dogs lacking positive early socialization experiences are ill equipped to live in our ever-changing world.

But Is It Safe?

Better vaccinations have dramatically reduced the risk of your puppy contracting a disease from another dog. We don't recommend taking him to the dog park or walking him on the street before he's fully vaccinated, but it's much safer than it used to be to have your puppy play with other healthy, partially vaccinated puppies.

In fact, the risk of a dog dying because of a behavior problem (being put down or surrendered to a shelter) is far greater than the risk of him contracting a disease from another puppy.

Your Puppy's Development



What to do

Birth to 4 months Critical socialization window Positively introduce your puppy to all types of people, animals, and situations that you'd like him to accept as an adult dog.
4 to 6 months Older puppyhood Build on and strengthen your puppy's positive association to strangers. Otherwise, this is when he may begin to shy away from people he doesn't know.
6 months to 2 years Adolescence Continue to socialize your teenage dog to children of all ages. The most common age for previously social-butterfly dogs to become wary of children is eight months. If any problems arise, stop exposing your dog to children and consult a professional trainer.
2 years and older Adulthood Socialization maintenance needs to occur to keep your dog social and adaptable.