6th Annual Gulf-Atlantic Veterinary Conference
Veterinarians and trainers often recommend “socialization” to owners of young puppies as part of standard education and care. Most recommendations are focused on exposing the puppies to a variety of stimuli, including children, novel objects and body handling. However, most information that is written and presented on the subject specifically focuses on the primary socialization period lasting from roughly 3 weeks until 12-14 weeks of age without addressing the other developmental periods that also have an impact on this overall process. This presentation will cover information about the process of socialization from the viewpoint of five different “windows of opportunity,” including genetic influences, prenatal effects, neonatal influences and the impact of ongoing learning that occurs long after the primary socialization period has ended, in addition to guidelines for navigating the primary socialization period as well. Specific recommendations and strategies for each of these life stages will be discussed.