Not Socialising your Puppy will come Back to Bite you - and Him...
Firstly, this post is not about dogs who have been taken on as adults for whatever reason and who's socialization period is over - obviously the current owner bears no responsibility for the dog's social history in such a case - they simply have to try to pick up the pieces.
Neither is this post advocating unhealthy or reckless "socialization" where puppies are are exposed in a careless manner to all sorts of inappropriate experiences (wild puppy parties, unsupervised play, being manhandled by all and sundry) during the socialization period.
Nor is it advocating ignoring the limitations of an adult dog with pre-existing social problems and putting them in situations that are stressful and make their lives unpleasant.
This is a post about new puppies that are in the socialization period (4-14 weeks on average) and the HUGE responsibility that falls on puppy owners to carefully and adequately socialise their puppies to help them feel comfortable in the world.
I follow many rescue organizations on Facebook and sadly, there are many lovely rescued dogs sitting in shelters who cannot find homes because "Needs to be an only dog" or "Not Socialised with dogs" is a factor. Think how difficult it is to find a good home for a dog with this limitation? Most dog lovers who are in a position to take on a rescue already have a dog or two of their own or would like to have more than one dog. I am pretty confident, from my experience, that this requirement limits the potential homes for such a dog by a massive percentage.
And what caused this limitation? Again in my experience, 90% of the time it is a simple lack of exposure to other dogs. Dogs that have never been socialised and have no idea how to behave with other dogs and are therefore often not safe around other dogs.
Think about how tragic it is that we take a species and isolate them to such an extent that they don't even know how to communicate or get along with any other member of their own species? How does this happen? It happens because of the following:
1. I can't cancel my holiday just because I have a puppy now. I'll start taking him out when I get back in a few weeks.... 2. But he can't go out until all vaccinations are done. ... 3. I'm just really busy right now with work. ... 4. But my child has extra murals during the week and parties on the weekends - we just can't make puppy class... 5. But the weather is too miserable at the moment - we'll start going out in summer... 6. I have another dog at home - so he is socialised. ...
All of these excuses are a recipe for a dog that is likely to end up with social problems that prevent him or her from being able to enjoy outdoor activities with the owner or will make those activities stressful and unpleasant. They may prevent the puppy from ever being able to live successfully with another dog. They might make vet visits or car travel a nightmare. They may result in a dog that is not safe around other people. They may prevent a dog from being able to join a group training class at a later stage when help is needed. They will limit a dog and owner's lifestyle to a point where some people will then decide the dog does not fit their expectations and will give him up - and there he or she will sit..... waiting for someone who is willing to accept these limitations and try to make the best of them.
Yes, there are other reasons why dogs may end up with social problems and many are NOT the owners fault (trauma, illness, poor early environment, genetic traits), but lack of simple socialization is too commonly the cause. People who end up with these problems through no fault of their own would do anything to change the situation if it were possible - DON'T make excuses if you have a puppy right now. DON'T leave it til later.... DON'T waste this precious time.