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New Discoveries – Helping Us Understand Our Dogs

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100 – April, 2018

By Caroline Coile

Every dog breeder is well aware of the importance of early socialization in puppies. Scott and Fuller’s research indicating the prime time for puppy socialization is from 3 to 14 weeks of age is among the most often quoted studies when talking of puppies. Now a new study has shown that socializing at an even earlier age is beneficial.

The new study combined existing nest socialization theories with young puppy developmental theories to create a program designed to be highly effective and quick and easy.

Six litters (either Goldens, Labradors, or their crosses) from the Guide Dogs for the Blind breeding program were randomly split so that half the puppies in each litter received standard socialization and half received extra socialization involving interacting with people (such as stroking the puppy with the fingers, a towel or rubber gloves) and the environment (such as variable outdoor surfaces, climbing over an obstacle, or walking through a doorway), as well as visual, auditory, and tactile stimulation (such as making a cell phone ring near the puppy). The extra socialization started at birth and continued for 5 days per week for the first 6 weeks of life. Initial socialization periods were 5 minutes per day and built to 15 minutes per puppy per day.

Puppies were evaluated at age 6 weeks and 8 months. At 6 weeks the puppies receiving extra socialization were scored higher than those that did not. At 8 months, the puppies with extra socialization were less likely to have anxiety or separation-related behaviors. They were also less distractible and less body-sensitive. However, there was no difference in trainability or energy levels.

The researchers believe the additional stimulation received by extra-socialized puppies provided increased physical contact, mental challenges, and extensive positive interaction with people away from the litter, all of which be considered mild stressors. They state that this may help explain the reduced anxiety and distraction-related behavior observed at 8 months. Note that this agrees with the early neural stimulation utilized with the Biosensor Superdog program many breeders use. This program basically combines aspects of the Superdog program with Scott and Fuller’s socialization periods. While it takes more time than the Superdog program, who doesn’t want an excuse to spend more time with puppies?

Click here to read the complete article
100 – April, 2018

Short URL: http://caninechronicle.com/?p=142256

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