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Is your pet a social butterfly or people-shy? Veterinarians can instantly tell if an animal has been socialized. Some animals leap up and are happy to see the doctor and everyone else in the waiting room. Others take cover behind their owner and do not want to come out as life is stressful for them.Socialization makes all the difference. It is the key to having a well-behaved cat or dog. When kittens or puppies are introduced to a variety of other animals, environments and people during the first few weeks of their life, they do better, are not as stressed and have relatively fewer problems later on in life. When they are young, they take new experiences in their stride. However, as they grow older, they become scared and nervous when they are confronted with something or someone new.How to go about it?
The key to is to start when they are young and introduce your new cat or dog to as many new things as possible. Here is what you can do:
- Start when they are a few weeks old – Kittens and puppies should be socialized before they are sixteen weeks old. People have a tendency to isolate their pets when they are young and erroneously think that they will get them used to different environments after a year. The perfect time for this kind of pet training is between three and twelve weeks of age. The window starts closing around eighteen weeks. The time period is even younger for kittens. If you are going to adopt an adult dog, you miss out on the opportunity to socialize. But even they can get used to people they see on a regular basis.
- Set goals – Think clearly about what and who a puppy will be around as it gets older. Make a list of things that your pet needs to be socialized to. That includes children, crying babies, men, women, people of different nationalities, people wearing hats, crowds, and more. The wider the variety of people your pet is exposed to, the better.
- Expose them to different environments – Take your puppy for a walk on concrete, grass, through pet stores, on quiet streets, busy streets, areas with other animals – and near trucks, cars, trains, and buses. You can take your dog for a ride in the car through different parts of the town, through car-washes, and through drive-throughs. This is also the time to get them used to being handled during grooming.
- Daily schedule – Socialize your pet every day during the first sixteen weeks. Let strangers pet your dog.
- Reward your pet – Give positive reinforcement in the form of a small treat when your pet socializes well.
- Give it 75 minutes – It takes puppies and kittens 75 minutes to get used to a new thing. So it is important to give them some time.
- Go to kindergarten – If your puppy has not received all its vaccinations, sign up for socialization classes at an animal hospital. It is a safe environment and the classes are meant to introduce your pet to a variety of sights, sounds and smells, and can even assist with obedience training.