Project puppy: socialization

Early and ongoing positive encounters with a wide variety of people is at the core of helping your puppy to grow into an adult dog who is friendly and enjoys the company of people. However, each dog will have its unique preferences and tendencies, particularly in regards to social relationships. Some dogs tend to be of the ‘everyone is a potential best buddy’ school of thought, while others take a more ‘let me get to know you before I decide’ approach.

Genetics plays a large part in a dogs’ social tendencies, and hundreds of years of selective breeding has resulted in some dogs being more discriminating about developing friendships with other dogs and people. Some pups may require a greater effort on the part of their new family to help them overcome any genetic predispositions or lapses in good care (i.e., a puppy that was raised in a puppy mill or hectic breeding kennel environment) that result in less social tendencies.

While all puppies require your diligent attention to socialization, be sure you are prepared to face the challenges of a particular pup’s potential social hurdles.

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Andrea Arden is an animal behavior counselor, rescuer, author, speaker, and a resident pet expert on the Today Show. For more information, check out her website, AndreaArden.com.