Early, thorough and ongoing socialization is extremely important for all dogs; it helps them learn proper social graces and respond to situations in a calm balanced manner. Dogs that lack proper socialization often exhibit fear or aggression when faced with new situations, people and other animals. Dogs that lack proper socialization can become aggressive, extremely territorial and dangerous.
Socialization should start as early as possible. Puppies should be socialized with as many different people, situations, other animals and sounds as possible. The more socialization a puppy has the better chance he will become a well-balanced stable adult. All socialization should be as positive and upbeat as possible, making each new experience a fun adventure for the dog; with young puppies start slow so not to overwhelm them. Socialization should not end when the puppy reaches adulthood; it should continue their entire life. A well-socialized puppy can forget their learned social graces if they go an extended time without using them.
One of the easiest ways to get a puppy socialized is by taking them to pet stores, public parks, dog parks and entering them in puppy classes at your local dog obedience school. It is also a good idea to take them places where there are crowds and lots of traffic to help them gets use to all the noise. Taking puppies on car rides, to beaches and camping are all great experiences, which will help them, grow into stable adults. Puppies should also have lots of socialization in the own homes to help them learn to behave around houseguests. Puppies should not start socializing with other animals until they are fully vaccinated.
Socialization not only helps a puppy become a well-balanced dog, it can help decrease inherited breeds traits. All dogs have traits that are inherited in their breed; certain traits are undesirable to some owners or if not tempered can lead to aggressive and dangerous behaviour. Socialization can help decrease inherited traits. Breeds that are naturally suspicious of strangers and protective should have lots of socialization with different people to help decrease the chances of them becoming overprotective and dangerous. Breeds that are naturally nervous and skittish should have lots of socialization with different noises, situations and people to help them grow into stable confident adults. Breeds that are naturally aggressive with other dogs should have early and thorough socialization with other dogs to help decrease canine aggression problems. Early and thorough socialization will not always completely diminish an inherited breed trait, but it will often help decrease it so it is manageable and not dangerous.
Lack of socialization is the cause of many of the behavioural problems seen in dogs. Many aggression and fear problems could have been avoided if the dog had been properly socialized as a puppy. Even older dogs that have not had previous socialization can profit hugely from the experience and with care it can help them gain confidence and stability. Early, thorough and ongoing socialization combined with proper training, exercise and love are the key ingredients to raising a well-behaved trustworthy canine citizen.