When we think about what it means to raise a happy, healthy dog or cat, some things immediately come to mind: a nutritious diet, regular wellness care, vaccinations, and daily exercise.
Few pet owners think of socialization as a vital aspect of pet ownership, but the truth is, proper pet socialization is the backbone of your companion animal’s emotional health and physical safety.
What Is Pet Socialization?
Pet socialization is the process by which your pet learns how to be a part of human society. Some of your pet’s socialization will happen naturally as you move through daily life together, but it’s important to make sure that he or she is exposed to a variety of people, places, animals, noises, and smells early on in life.
Some ideas you can implement to help your pet become familiar and comfortable with his or her world include:
- Interaction with you and your family
- Interaction with other people, especially children
- Exposure to other animals
- Exposure to new places, such as other people’s homes, the veterinarian’s office, and your vehicle
- Getting your pet used to being touched and handled
- Learning about appropriate responses to environmental stimuli
The Benefits Of Pet Socialization
Well-behaved pets are more confident, happier, and pose less risk to others and to themselves. Because a properly socialized pet knows how to respond appropriately, he or she is easier to control and, thus, able to enjoy a wider range of experiences, as well as deeper bonds with their human family members.
Pet Socialization: Where To Begin
In a perfect world, everyone would begin their pet’s socialization process during the “sensitive period”, which is between 3 and 9 weeks of age for kittens and 3 and 14 weeks of age for puppies. However, because each pet is an individual, this timing can vary. For many dogs and cats, adequate socialization is possible even when they are much older.
Improve your pet’s social skills with the following tips:
- Make sure to provide plenty of praise and comforting during the socialization process.
- Stop as soon as your pet shows signs of fear or stress.
- Until your pet is fully vaccinated, avoid public places where lots of animals gather, such as dog parks and pet stores.
- Consider professional socialization and training classes.
How Lone Tree Veterinary Medical Center Can Help
Regardless of your dog’s age, we encourage you to consider professional obedience training. Dogs often learn best in a supervised group setting comprised of other dogs who are all learning to navigate social dynamics. Obedience and socialization classes at Lone Tree Veterinary Medical Center encompass a wide range of social and behavioral needs for dogs of all ages.
A happy, healthy pet is our goal at Lone Tree Veterinary Medical Center! Together, we will help you to guide your puppy or kitten with tenderness and compassion as he or she learns to navigate life in human society. Contact us to learn more!