In the past it was considered dangerous to take a young, partially vaccinated puppy out into the world. We now know differently! We now know that more dogs are euthanized each year due to behavior problems than puppies who acquire parvo virus. Many of these behavior problems could have been prevented if the dogs had been socialized as a puppy. Puppies learn about what is scary and what is safe during the first 4 months of life. If a puppy is not exposed to new people, places and things the puppy may later develop strong fears to these things.
Although fear can keep an individual safe, it can also create problems. When a person or animal experiences extreme fear they go into “survival mode”. When in survival mode, the brain tells the body to “fight”, “flight” or “freeze”. Flight and freeze tend to be an obvious sign of fear. If you are being chased by a bear, you may run but if you are surprised by an intruder, you may freeze.
Unfortunately, for dogs many times a “fight” response from fear is seen as aggression. Many of these dogs are euthanized every year due to “aggression” when in reality they are just fearful. It is tragic to think that a puppy could later be euthanized merely because it was not exposed to new people or places.
To prevent having a fearful dog, it is extremely important to socialize your puppy. Puppy classes are a great way to safely socialize them. To learn more, check out (avsab socialization statement).