What is socialization and why is it important?
When it comes to pets, every owner needs to understand the ways in which they encourage their pets’ development. Everything that the owner does, forms a whole that affects certain behaviors of the dog and thus his general psychophysical condition.
In addition to the basic obligation to protect and take care of the dog, we are responsible for helping him in the process of learning and adapting to our world and our rules. It is important to know that in every moment with us, the dog learns something from our conscious and unconscious behavior.
You can read more about responsible ownership here.
Socialization aims that a pet independently, even without our presence, satisfies the needs that are natural for him and acceptable for us.
In that process, we teach him e.g. how to solve problems and be independent, where his place is, how to ask for something he needs, when and how much to bark, etc. By socializing, the owner gains authority and trust because he respects the pet’s needs in an appropriate way and the dog gains self-confidence.
Simply put, by carefully and positively exposing the dog to people and different situations, then to other dogs and other animals, he gets to know the world around him, lives without stress and fear, but also develops communication skills. As the vast majority of behavioral problems are based on fear of something, socialization leads to the dog feeling safe in different circumstances.
What does socialization mean?
Socialization is the process of introducing a dog to the way he can live in human and animal society, without posing a threat to oneself or others.
It can thus include: learning how to behave towards family members, other people, other animals, guests, behavior in the car, and so on. Without adequate socialization, dogs develop fears and phobias, and this can lead to behavioral problems.
Some of them are not noticed immediately, but once they appear, they require special methods and techniques of long-term resocialization that help a dog returns to a normal mental state and behavior. For example, in the process of desensitization or counter-conditioning, the dog is gradually exposed to stressors at the level he can tolerate.
It is important to note that dogs can be taught how to behave at any age, but the best results are achieved when they are between two and four months old.
In Western European countries, as well as in America, for several decades, veterinarians themselves have been advising owners to dedicate themselves to socialization at the same time as immunizing puppies. The World Veterinary Societies, especially in Germany and Australia, emphasize the importance of proper early socialization for developing good behavior and integration into society. The American Veterinary Society for the Protection of Animals is of the official opinion that the first three months of a puppy’s life are also the most important time in his socialization during which they should be exposed to as many stimuli as possible, taking care not to over-stimulate them, which could cause fear.
When it comes to Serbia’s neighboring countries, in Croatia in 2019, under the official patronage of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Zagreb, an organization was launched to raise awareness of proper early socialization. This association emphasizes that the danger of infection during the socialization of puppies in controlled conditions is minimal and that, in order to ensure the best possible quality of life for the dog in the long run, it is necessary to carry out a procedure to protect his physical and mental progress.
In one of the previous blogs, we also wrote about the laws concerning animal welfare.
With joint efforts of professionals, cynological experts, and dog owners, puppies can be taught how to behave properly from an early age. The whole society, where consequences of a bad upbringing are most often emphasized while positive results of the preventive approach are ignored, would benefit from that.
By setting standards of approved behavior using the Pet Travel Advisor certification, service providers are promoting social education and responsible ownership regarding the importance of pet socialization.
In case you have any doubts, the Pet Travel Advisor team will give you answers to them. Contact us for additional questions at: firstname.lastname@example.org or join the pet owner community or communicate through a forum or group.
Author: Marina Stancevic