Some people here (Leah, in particular) claimed that my views on the "critical" socialization period were not only "wrong" but "dangerous". When I get things wrong I admit it.
I wasn't wrong. And the current views on socialization are actually more dangerous because of the almost complete misunderstanding many people here apparently have about it.
Since you like cites by names you know, here's one for you: Patricia McConnell says that some of the initial studies on the "critical window" have been questioned, and that some in the field are now referring to this as a "sensitive" period, not a "critical" one.
Meanwhile, some breeders won't let a puppy go home with its new owners until after the dog is 12 wks. old because they feel it's important for the pup to stay with its mother and littermates or else the dog will miss out on its critical socilization period, which can only take place in the litter.
I've known a number of dogs who weren't allowed contact with other dogs until after the "window" had closed. And these dogs had no socialization problems. Another trainer I respect says that he's seen dogs who had no socialization with other dogs (other than the mother and littermates) for up to 8 mos. and had no problems with socialization.

My own dog has had the same three social responses to every dog he meets since he was 10 wks. old, despite the fact that I "socialized him early" to other dogs. (He's either attracted to a dog, uninterested, or he avoids the dog. He's always been like this and he probably always will.) If contact with other dogs during the "critical" stage were so important, wouldn't my taking him to the dog run starting at 8 wks. have had some effect on his social behavior? Yet it hasn't had any appreciable effect.
Puppy classes and "socialization" groups can actually be detrimental to a dog's socialization, particularly since the mindset of some people is to just throw the dogs together to get them "socialized". This often puts the puppy in an unnatural situation with more stimulus than he can handle and the natural process of learning how to get along with other dogs is short-circuited. Socialization classes are unnatural and should be avoided or outlawed.
Socialization to humans is different from socialization to other dogs. "Dog = friend/family" takes place in the litter through a natural "imprinting" process. Dogs do not naturally imprint to human beings and should be given safe, friendly contact with as many different types of people as possible during the socialization period.

Acclimating a dog to new sounds, surface textures, traffic, etc. is NOT A PART OF THE SOCIALIZATION PERIOD. It's part of the FEAR DEVELOPMENT PHASE. Lumping these two things together, even though they happen concurrently, muddies your thinking. Anyone who says that a puppy needs to be acclimated to new sounds, etc., as part of his socialization doesn't understand what socialization is.
No dog should be expected to be socialized to all other dogs. In fact, this is a baad idea. I say let the dog decide who he's comfortable or uncomfortable with. Always trust your dog's instincts, not the "experts" who still believe in the outmoded idea that dogs are capable of forming a social hierarchy, etc.
Rousseau said, "Nature is never wrong." And since dogs are a part of nature, dogs are never wrong.
I'm a human being, so I'm wrong about things from time to time. I'm not wrong about this.
1 2 3 4 5 6
My own dog has had the same three social responses to every dog he meets since he was 10 wks. ... run starting at 8 wks. have had some effect on his social behavior? Yet it hasn't had any appreciable effect.

Sure it has. He's comfortable around other dogs and knows how to communicate with them. That's the point of socialization. The goal isn't to create a "party animal," it's to create a sense of confidence that comes from familiarity.
Puppy classes and "socialization" groups can actually be detrimental to a dog's socialization, particularly since the mindset of some people ... learning how to get along with other dogs is short-circuited. Socialization classes are unnatural and should be avoided or outlawed.

Proper socialization is done with supervision, since the experience needs to be "positive" for each pup. If you just throw them together and let fly what will, you can certainly end up with a traumatized puppy or two.

However, IMHO proper socialization is more important than training. You have the dog's life to train him, but only a short window of opportunity to socialize him.
I've met far too many dogs who react fearfully and aggressively simply because they were not properly socialized as young pups. So saying that socialization classes should be outlawed is, to me, the height of ignorance.
Socialization to humans is different from socialization to other dogs. "Dog = friend/family" takes place in the litter through a ... and should be given safe, friendly contact with as many different types of people as possible during the socialization period.

How do you account for the bazillions of dogs out there who are fine around the other dogs at home, but fearful or aggressive to strange dogs? Whether human or animal, a puppy needs to become confident around ALL other living creatures. Exposure to the other pups in the litter simply creates a familiarity with THOSE pups. Even then, if you take the dog away at 12 weeks of age and never expose him to another dog, and at 6 months of age introduce him to a pup from his own litter, chances are that he will react fearfully or aggressively.
No dog should be expected to be socialized to all other dogs. In fact, this is a baad idea. I say let the dog decide who he's comfortable or uncomfortable with.

Um... boggle. A dog who is socialized to many different breeds will be comfortable with many different breeds. A dog who is not probably will not.

I did tell the story of the flop-eared pup who was initially afraid of all the ***-eared pups in class, didn't I? All he knew were the pups from his own litter. Within a week, however, he was comfortable and confident around all other pups, no matter what kind of ears they had.
Patricia McConnell says that some of the initial studies on the "critical window" have been questioned, and that some in the field are now referring to this as a "sensitive" period, not a "critical" one.

What context did you take this quote from? Is she saying that this is a reason that they shouldn't be socialized? I doubt it. Sounds to me like she's saying that socialization can occur outside of the "critical" period. Which is a no-brainer. However, the older the pup gets, the less the success rate.

I have a puppy class right now with a year-old chi mix in it. For 3 weeks, she's been hiding behind daddy's legs during play-time. However, she is coming out to sniff butts when the others aren't paying attention to her, her tail is no longer tucked, and she has started to give eye contact to the other dogs. She's making progress, but it's a coin-toss as to how much more she will make. However, if she were five months old or younger, I'd bet money that she would be playing already.
Of course, I don't let the other puppies jump in her face. That's the "proper supervision" part. But, as socialization goes, the other pups are also learning to be gentler and less forward with their approaches to her.

Here's the bottom line. Your adult dog comes in contact with another adult dog who seriously challenges him. An undersocialized dog will probably choose flight or fight. Either way, he loses. A well-socialized dog may have the skills to defuse the situation with the proper body language.

Canine Action Dog Trainer
http://www.canineaction.com
My Kids, My Students, My Life:
http://hometown.aol.com/dfrntdrums/myhomepage/index.html Build Your Immune System, Lose Weight
http://www.re-vita.net/dfrntdrums
My own dog has had the same three social responses ... his social behavior? Yet it hasn't had any appreciable effect.

Sure it has. He's comfortable around other dogs and knows how to communicate with them. That's the point of socialization. The goal isn't to create a "party animal," it's to create a sense of confidence that comes from familiarity.

Exactly. Racing Greyhounds are a good example of the benefits of socialization with other dogs. On the breeding farms, the litters stay together until the pups are several months old. This no doubt helps prepare them for their future life on the track, where they live in kennels of 40 - 60 dogs and are routinely turned out with many other dogs. Racing Greyhounds are very used to being around other dogs (other Greyhounds, at least) and generally are good at communicating with other dogs. However, this doesn't mean that because they had so much socialization with other dogs, they want to be buds with every other dog they meet.
Mustang Sally
I wasn't wrong. And the current views on socialization are actually more dangerous because of the almost complete misunderstanding many people here apparently have about it.

Many people have the wrong idea about what the term "socialization" means.
Since you like cites by names you know, here's one for you: Patricia McConnell says that some of the initial ... questioned, and that some in the field are now referring to this as a "sensitive" period, not a "critical" one.

OK
Meanwhile, some breeders won't let a puppy go home with its new owners until after the dog is 12 wks. ... or else the dog will miss out on its critical socilization period, which can only take place in the litter.

That can be a misunderstaindg of the principles, or it can be a misunderstanding of the rationale, or it could be a mischaracterization of a particular breeders reasoning. Any and all of these things are possible. The decision of when to send puppies to a new home can be based on correct principles as well as incorrect ones. Depending upon the breeder's time and skills, and the environment of the new home, the best timing will vary.
I've known a number of dogs who weren't allowed contact with other dogs until after the "window" had closed. And ... with other dogs (other than the mother and littermates) for up to 8 mos. and had no problems with socialization.

Your phrasing here suggests a misunderstanding of the term "socialization". What the trainer might have observered is lack of problems with dog to dog interaction. Lack of socialization may or may not cause problems in dog to dog interaction. Lack of socialization is an explanation for observed behavior but is not itself a behavior.
My own dog has had the same three social responses to every dog he meets since he was 10 wks. ... attracted to a dog, uninterested, or he avoids the dog. He's always been like this and he probably always will.)

Social interaction can be influenced by socialization. But they are not codependent. Socialization is the learning process faciliatated by experience. And like most learning the more wide and varied the experience the more broadly it can be applied. It is very common when the breadth of experience is limited that the learning is similarly limited.
If contact with other dogs during the "critical" stage were so important, wouldn't my taking him to the dog run starting at 8 wks. have had some effect on his social behavior? Yet it hasn't had any appreciable effect.

Taking him to the dog run starting at 8 weeks could have had a negative effect just as easily as a positive one depending upon his experiences there.
Puppy classes and "socialization" groups can actually be detrimental to a dog's socialization, particularly since the mindset of some people is to just throw the dogs together to get them "socialized".

Absolutely correct. This is a significant problem when people think "socialization" means "playing with." It does not mean playing with, nor does it necessarily mean interacting with. It means becoming familiar with.
This often puts the puppy in an unnatural situation with more stimulus than he can handle and the natural process of learning how to get along with other dogs is short-circuited. Socialization classes are unnatural and should be avoided or outlawed.

Outlawed - sheesh youer hyperbolyle really dents your credibility.
Socialization to humans is different from socialization to other dogs.

NSS
"Dog = friend/family" takes place in the litter through a natural "imprinting" process. Dogs do not naturally imprint to human beings and should be given safe, friendly contact with as many different types of people as possible during the socialization period.

Just as they should with dogs.
Acclimating a dog to new sounds, surface textures, traffic, etc. is NOT A PART OF THE SOCIALIZATION PERIOD.

Yes, it is.
It's part of the FEAR DEVELOPMENT PHASE. Lumping these two things together, even though they happen concurrently, muddies your thinking. ... of his socialization doesn't understand what socialization is. No dog should be expected to be socialized to all other dogs.

No dog whould be expected to like all other dogs, nor be expected to interact indiscrimenantly with them. But a dog should be able to behave in a calm and non-threatening manner.
In fact, this is a baad idea. I say let the dog decide who he's comfortable or uncomfortable with. Always trust your dog's instincts, not the "experts" who still believe in the outmoded idea that dogs are capable of forming a social hierarchy, etc.

This has absolutley nothing to do with correct socialization. Correct socialization requires introduction to dogs that are themselves behaving in a normal and approriate manner. Many dogs are not normal
Rousseau said, "Nature is never wrong." And since dogs are a part of nature, dogs are never wrong. I'm a human being, so I'm wrong about things from time to time. I'm not wrong about this.

You have some correct points, you are just perpetuating an incorrect characterization of what socialization means, and what effective socialization involves. Maybe you would do better to just stay way from the technical terminology as you seem to consistently misapprehend it. Generally you do at least pick the most common misuderstandings, but your arguments against correct theory by picking on incorrect application don't do much for your ability to persuade those who do understand and use the terms correctly.

Diane Blackman
http://dog-play.com /
http://dogplay.com/Shop /
Kelley's OP:>>If contact with other dogs during the "critical" stage were so important,
wouldn't my taking him to the dog run starting at ... his social behavior? Yet it hasn't had any appreciable effect.

Leah:>Sure it has. He's comfortable around other dogs and >knows how to communicate with them. That's the point of >socialization.

there has been no appreciable difference in his social behavior from the time he was 8 wks. old to today, despite the fact that I deliberately put him in new social surroundings as soon as possible. The level of socialization that he had when he left the litter is basically the same level he has now at 12 and 1/2 years old.
Leah:>If you just throw them together and let fly what will, you can certainly end up with a traumatized puppy or two.

And that's exactly what some "schools" are doing these days, all in the holy name of "socialization", which is based on a deep misunderstanding of what that actually means.
Leah:>How do you account for the bazillions of dogs out there who are fine around the other dogs at home, but fearful or aggressive to strange dogs?That may be due to a number of factors having nothing to do with the critical period. The most common structural dynamic in the homes of most dog owners is geared toward repressing a dog's natural behavior. That seems to work fine as long as there's no change in the structural dynamic, but when it changes BAM!! the dog doesn't know what to do with his energy. This can often be seen in the anxiety that many "perfectly trained" dogs exhibit when the owners move to a new home, or there's a divorce, or some other change in the underlying structural dynamic of the household.

Some dogs get anxious when you move the furniture around on cleaning day. That's because their natural way of doing things has been messed with, either through ignorance of the owner, or through bad advice from a professional trainer.
Leah:>IMHO proper socialization is more important than training. You have the dog's life to train him, but only a short window of opportunity to socialize him.
Again, that's based on your misunderstanding of what happens during that window of time.
Leah:>I've met far too many dogs who react fearfully and aggressively simply because they were not properly socialized as young pups.

How do you know? To me that's merely your knee-jerk reaction, based on your misunderstanding about what socialization is. You can't say with 100% assurance that these behaviors are caused by lack of "proper socialization" and not by some other contributing factor, including "PR" type training. There may be a multitude of other factors involved having nothing to do with the "critical" period.
Leah:>So saying that socialization classes should be outlawed is, to me, the height of ignorance.
Sure, because your beliefs about socialization are based on studies and opinions by "experts" that have since been discredited. To me it's not ignorance to want to outlaw such classes, but plain common sense. What's ignorant is consistently ignoring the information that's right there in front of your eyes (if you'd only look at it), and relying instead on outdated, discredited ideas from so-called experts. Now that's ignorance.
Kelley's OP:>>No dog should be expected to be socialized to all other dogs. In fact,
this is a baad idea. I say let the dog decide who he's comfortableor uncomfortable with.

Leah:>Um... boggle. A dog who is socialized to many different breeds will be comfortable with many different breeds. A dog who is not probably will not.
Boggle? It's not about being comfortable or uncomfortable with "different breeds", it's about being comfortable or uncomfortable around individual dogs.
McConnell says that some of the initial studies on the ... referring tothis as a "sensitive" period, not a "critical" one.

Leah:>What context did you take this quote from? Is she saying that this is a reason that they shouldn't be socialized?
No one is saying that dogs shouldn't be socialized. All I'm saying is that your view of what socialization means is skewed. It has nothing to do with making the dog familiar with other breeds, or getting him used to "***-eared" dogs, etc. The imprinting takes place in the litter. That's the only aspect of socialization that could be possibly be construed as being critical. And if the dog is handled properly, with an understanding of how the canine mind really works, even missing that period of socialization in the litter can be overcome.
Diane:>Socialization is the learning process faciliatated by experience.

I was speaking specifically about the so-called critical period, which entails not so much a learning process but one of imprinting. There's a difference.
Diane:>And like most learning the more wide and varied the experience the more broadly it can be applied. It is very common when the breadth of experience is limited that the learning is similarly limited.

I agree that after the dog has been imprinted in the litter the rest of the socialization process is merely a matter of expanding the dog's already existing social vocabulary. But this can take place at any time. The only "critical" period is when the pup is in the litter.

Kelley's OP:>> If contact with other dogs during the "critical" stage were so important, wouldn't my taking him to the dog run starting at 8 wks. have had some effect on his social behavior? Yet it hasn't had any appreciable effect.
Diane:>Taking him to the dog run starting at 8 weeks could have had a negative effect just as easily as a positive one depending upon his experiences there.
You're kind of missing the point, aren't you? He has the same three basic responses to other dogs at 12 yrs. that he had at 8 wks., which was before I started "socializing" him to other dogs. Why is there no appreciable difference?
Kelley's OP:>> Acclimating a dog to new sounds, surface textures, traffic, etc. is NOT A PART OF THE SOCIALIZATION PERIOD.
Yes, it is.
It's part of the FEAR DEVELOPMENT PHASE. Lumping these two ... etc., as part of his socializationdoesn't understand what socialization is.

Diane:>You have some correct points, you are just perpetuating an incorrect characterization of what socialization means, and what effective socialization involves. Maybe you would do better to just stay way from the technical terminology as you seem to consistently misapprehend it.

Hah! That's funny. If anything, I'm the only one being precise about the subject. To me, it's you who are suffering under a misapprehension. Particularly since you seem to believe that the fear development phase has anything to do with the imprinting of "dog = friend/family", which takes place in the litter.
there has been no appreciable difference in his social behavior from the time he was 8 wks. old to today, ... had when he left the litter is basically the same level he has now at 12 and 1/2 years old.

No, I didn't miss the point. Many, if not most, young puppies are friendly with other dogs. If you don't continue their socialization, however, they often become fearful or aggressive. Since he's still comfortable around other dogs, then that tells you that the socialization WORKED.
Leah:>If you just throw them together and let fly what will, you can certainly end up with a traumatized puppy ... days, all in the holy name of "socialization", which is based on a deep misunderstanding of what that actually means.

I've never been to a socialization class that hadn't been properly supervised. However, I'm sure there are incompetent trainers out there running them. Just like there are classes out there using harsh jerks on prong collars to teach dogs to sit. It doesn't negate the need for socialization.
Leah:>I've met far too many dogs who react fearfully and aggressively simply because they were not properly socialized as young ... "PR" type training. There may be a multitude of other factors involved having nothing to do with the "critical" period.

Of course, there could be a lot of reasons why a dog is fear-aggressive. But what I'm talking about are dogs that I've worked with, whose fearful or aggressive responses to other dogs were diminished or eliminated (pups) with simple socialization work.
Leah:>So saying that socialization classes should be outlawed is, to me, the height of ignorance. Sure, because your beliefs about socialization are based on studies and opinions by "experts" that have since been discredited.

My "experts" have not been discredited. And also my beliefs are not based solely on the written word, but personal experience.

To me it's not
ignorance to want to outlaw such classes, but plain common sense. What's ignorant is consistently ignoring the information that's right there in front of your eyes (if you'd only look at it), and relying instead on outdated, discredited ideas from so-called experts. Now that's ignorance.

So tell me again how this has been discredited? I must have missed it.
Leah:>Um... boggle. A dog who is socialized to many different breeds will be comfortable with many different breeds. A dog ... Boggle? It's not about being comfortable or uncomfortable with "different breeds", it's about being comfortable or uncomfortable around individual dogs.

Which means they should be exposed to different breeds, since they all communicate somewhat differently. For example, some dogs have tails, some don't. The ear movements are all different depending on the ear shape. How can you tell if a really fuzzy chow is pilo-erecting?
No one is saying that dogs shouldn't be socialized. All I'm saying is that your view of what socialization means is skewed.

So this is another case of you're right, the rest of the world is wrong? Isn't the one black marble in the bowl of white marbles usually the one that's considered different?
It has nothing to
do with making the dog familiar with other breeds, or getting him used to "***-eared" dogs, etc. The imprinting takes place in the litter. That's the only aspect of socialization that could be possibly be construed as being critical.

Mountains of evidence contradict you.
And if the dog is handled properly, with an
understanding of how the canine mind really works, even missing that period of socialization in the litter can be overcome.

You really think that a human can teach a dog to understand other dogs?

Canine Action Dog Trainer
http://www.canineaction.com
My Kids, My Students, My Life:
http://hometown.aol.com/dfrntdrums/myhomepage/index.html Build Your Immune System, Lose Weight
http://www.re-vita.net/dfrntdrums
If contact with other dogs during the "critical" stage were so important, wouldn't my taking him to the dog run starting at 8 wks. have had some effect on his social behavior? Yet it hasn't had any appreciable effect.

However, if you hadn't socialized him at 8 weeks, it's very likely that you'd have a very different dog today.
Canine Action Dog Trainer
http://www.canineaction.com
My Kids, My Students, My Life:
http://hometown.aol.com/dfrntdrums/myhomepage/index.html Build Your Immune System, Lose Weight
http://www.re-vita.net/dfrntdrums
there has been noappreciable difference in his social behavior from the time he was 8 wks. old to today, despite ... had when he left the litter is basically the same level he has now at 12 and 1/2 years old.

Leah:>No, I didn't miss the point. Many, if not most, young puppies are friendly with other dogs.
Right. Because the imprinting has already taken place in the litter.

Leah">If you don't continue their socialization, however, they often become fearful or aggressive.
Says who? And by what criteria? And what are any and all the other variables that might contribute to this fear and aggression that you're not factoring in? Improper socialization is the only thing that causes fear and aggression?
Leah:>Since he's still comfortable around other dogs, then that tells you that the socialization WORKED
No, what it tells me is that the socialization he got inthe dog run had no effect one way or the other.
Leah:>my beliefs are not based solely on the written word, but personal experience.
Right. And your interpretation of your personal experiences aren't in any way influenced by your beliefs.
Kelley:>>And if the dog is handled properly, with an understanding of how the canine mind really works, even missing that period of socialization in the litter can be overcome.

Leah:>You really think that a human can teach a dog to understand other dogs?
I can only assume you're very tired to have made this illogical non-response to what I said. If the dog is handled properly by someone who knows how the dog's mind actually works (meaning they're not basing their handling of the dog on the alpha theory or operant conditioning, which have a tendency to increase, rather than reduce emotional tension), then the dog's natural way of doing things, which is to form social bonds, comes to the surface and socialization problems cease to exist. (That's a generalized way of putting it.) In other words, socialization problems are usually due to mistreatment or mishandling, not to a lack of "proper socialization".
Show more