Why is Socialization, Habituation, and Enrichment Important?

When a puppy is born, he does not know that he is a dog.  It must be learned through the process we call pri­mary social­iza­tion.  He must also learn how to inter­act with humans and other ani­mals and also to be com­fort­able in his environment.

Puppy social­iza­tion, habit­u­a­tion, and envi­ron­men­tal enrich­ment – expos­ing pup­pies to new sit­u­a­tions and their adapt­ing to it before puberty – is impor­tant because pup­pies who are not well social­ized and habit­u­ated before 16 weeks old will not reach their full poten­tial as adult dogs.  The ulti­mate result is that pup­pies will grow up to be a behav­iorally fit dogs.

 

There are cer­tain peri­ods in a dog’s life which are sen­si­tive peri­ods, dur­ing which a lit­tle learn­ing goes a long way, and that learn­ing influ­ences his future behav­ior with both ben­e­fi­cial and dam­ag­ing effects.  We are con­cen­trat­ing on that learn­ing here.

A dog’s ulti­mate tem­pera­ment is deter­mined by his genes and how he is raised.   Breed­ers can con­trol whether they want to tem­pera­ment to be a part of their breed­ing pro­gram.  How both breed­ers and own­ers raise the pup­pies for the first 16 weeks of their lives has a tremen­dous influ­ence on whether the pup­pies will become well-adjusted and behav­iorally fit adult dogs because pup­pies are, essen­tially, a clean slate.  The small amounts of time in giv­ing pup­pies pos­i­tive early learn­ing expe­ri­ences will influ­ence and will have a dra­matic impact later on.

The influ­encers on how pup­pies act as adults are

  • The tem­pera­ment of the dam/mother
  • How the dam acts towards peo­ple, events, and other dogs
  • How peo­ple inter­act with the puppy
  • The age at which the puppy is sep­a­rated from its mother and litter
  • How many peo­ple, places, events, sounds, sights, and loca­tions the puppy has been intro­duced to before 16 weeks.

If a puppy is not does not have proper social­iza­tion and habit­u­a­tion, it will never reach its poten­tial and will likely be

  • Shy or timid
  • Fear­ful of any­thing new, both peo­ple and events
  • Aggres­sive
  • Unable to relate or com­mu­ni­cate with other dogs

Med­ically unsound (Since he is in a state of stress and anx­i­ety, his body will not have the energy to fight off illnesses)

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