Why Does my Dog Need Socialization?

//Why Does my Dog Need Socialization?

Have you ever encountered two dogs of the exact same breed whose behavior is drastically different?  Perhaps one of the dogs adores cats, small animals, and children while the other pet barks, chases, lunges, and nips at them.  One dog may be friendly and playful with strangers, while the other cowers in fear.  Aren’t purebred dogs all supposed to have roughly the same personality?  To an extent this is true (assuming responsible breeding), but personalities will manifest differently in dogs based on how well they are socialized (i.e. how well the owners introduced the pet to new people, animals, and experiences throughout its lifetime).  Listed below are the benefits of proper socialization.

Less Aggression

Dogs display aggression for a number of reasons:  fear, dominance, and protection of territory.  When a dog is routinely introduced to other humans, dogs, and animals from a young age, they learn that the majority of unfamiliar people and pets pose no threat.

Overcome Unfavorable Instincts

Certain dogs with high prey drives should not be around pets such as cats or rabbits, right?  If your dog is properly socialized as a puppy, he or she will be able to live harmoniously with other animals.  This includes even the most unlikely of pairings, such as beagles and rabbits.

Better Stress Management

Dogs crave routine and familiarity which is why they can become stressed in new situations.  However, the more often you introduce a dog to a unique scenario, the better he or she will develop tools to cope with the unknown.  For instance, if your dog has never heard a loud sound before, fireworks will likely be terrifying.  On the other hand, if your dog routinely is exposed to sounds such as loud trucks, clanging pans, etc., fireworks are less likely to be an issue.

Mental Stimulation

All animals require mental stimulation, especially young dogs.  The introduction of new sights, smells, people, animals, and experiences forces your dog to think and keeps boredom at bay.  A well socialized dog will display fewer behavioral problems, as socialization activities tend to be exhausting for pets.

Emergency Situations Made Easier

Unsocialized dogs are typically much more difficult to handle during emergencies.  If your dog needs to see a veterinarian but is wary of humans, emergency care could be severely delayed.  During a natural disaster such as a flood, tornado, hurricane, or other situation an emergency worker may be not be able to rescue a dog that is too stressed out.

Promotes Learning

Researchers believe that dogs have similar mental capacities as toddlers.  As dogs have new experiences they are able to make mental connections about the world around them.  For instance, if you have ever taken your pet into a dog-friendly store, your dog probably knows that cashiers often have a stash of treats, and may expect a treat from every cashier he sees.  This learned behavior is just one example of the mental connections dogs form, and how socialization changes the way in which a dog interprets the world around him.

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