The Stages of Puppy Socialization

Submitted by Veterinary Wellness Partners on Thu, 01/30/2014 - 4:23pm
The Stages of Puppy Socialization

What Age Is Best for Puppy Socialization?

Most behavior experts consider three important time periods when it comes to puppy socialization.  These stages are 3-12 weeks, 12-18 weeks and older thean 18 weeks of age.

Here are how the stages breakdoan and what they may mean:

3 to 12 weeks:  Puppies are the most accepting of new experiences during this time period.  They like to explore their environment.  This is the most formative stage.

12 to 18 Weeks:   As Puppies enter this new stage, they become much more skeptical of new experiences.  This includes new pets, people and places.   At some point during the time period from 12 to 18 weeks of age, the opportunity to socialize your puppy ends.  With each passing week, it becomes more and more difficult to get him or her to accept new experiences.  He or she becomes more wary with time.

Older than 18 weeks:  It may be difficult to teach a dog to like something new, or help him become comfortable with something he finds frightening.

Within the entire socialization period, your dog will have periods where they appear fearless, yet others times he or she may be very cautious at other times.

If you look closely at the time period above, it is interesting to note that puppies  easily accept all new experiences when they are around their mother and littermates.  As time goes on, your puppy ages, gets bigger and is often moved into a new home;  they tend to be more cautious.

Dr. Gregory Roadruck is very interested in behavior and training.  He can be contacted via the following email address:


Written for the Orrville Veterinary Clinic.