Puppy Socialisation and Habituation (Part 1) Why is it Necessary?

Friday 17th May 2013 @ 1:25 AM. (NZST)

Puppy Socialisation and Habituation (Part 1) Why is it Necessary?

Friday 17th May 2013 @ 1:25 AM. (NZST)

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One in five of the dogs that Dr Valerie O’Farrell (1986) studied while conducting research at Edinburgh (Royal Dick) University Veterinary School had a behavioural problem to a lesser or greater extent. A similar, but larger, American study fixed the figure at one in four. In one year my practice treated 773 dogs - 79 of them, that’s 10 percent, had problems of fearfulness towards people or the environment due to a lack of early socialisation or habituation and a further 4.5. percent were inept at relating to other dogs, again due to a lack of early socialisation. The problem is immeasurably greater than these figures suggest. Many dogs show a weakness of temperament or inability to cope when faced with a particular situation, without their behaviour becoming problematical enough for the owners to seek help from a behavioural counsellor.

Socialisation can be described as the process whereby an animal learns how to recognise and interact with the species with which it cohabits. In the wild this is likely to be limited to the animal’s own species, but for the domestic dog it includes other species such as man and cats. By learning how to interact with these the socialised dog develops communication skills which enable it to recognise, amongst other things, whether or not it is being threatened and how to recognise and respond to the intentions of others.

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