The importance of puppy and kitten socialization is an under-recognized aspect of puppy and kitten development, resulting in dogs and cats with fears and anxieties that manifest as behavioral problems later on in life.
WHAT IS SOCIALIZATION AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
What is “socialization?”
When veterinarians talk about “socialization, ” what we mean is that, at specific time periods in a very young puppy or kitten’s life, puppies and kittens are most likely to receive new stimuli without a fear reaction and retain positive memories of these experiences.
Dr Bonnie Beaver, one of the early pioneers in veterinary clinical behavior, has defined “socialization” as being a special learning process where an animal learns to tolerate the close proximity of members of its own species as well as members of other species.
Socialization is all about learning to accept that there are others in the world — big, small, same, different. It does not imply that the puppy or kitten has to like all of them, just accept they are there and learn to live with them. It does not imply having to play with them, which is often what people often expect.
Why is socialization important?
Failure to expose puppies and kittens to different situations, sounds, people, animals, experiences, and control the exposure so that the puppy and kitten does not become fearful, creates fearful and anxious adult dogs and cats.
Fearful and anxious dogs and cats are more likely to bite people or other pets, destroy the home, and create other problematic situations. As a result, the pet is often relinquished to the shelter, or euthanized because the behavior problem is so unmanageable or extreme that euthanasia is the only option.
As veterinarians, it is our obligation to help you provide the best care you can for your pet for its whole life.
Early socialization is the foundation for this lifetime of best care.
We have teamed up with the exceptional staff at KARMA DOG TRAINING to provide puppy socialization and dog training (and owner understanding). KARMA trainers employ rewards-based training techniques, NOT PUNISHMENT BASED. Punishment based techniques have been shown to increase fear and anxiety, and are not encouraged by veterinary professionals.[/box]