We are what we experience, from how we were parented, the books we read, the movies we watch, the music we listen to, the people we meet, the conversations you engage in.
Think about how one conversation with another person can change your course in life, it’s happened to me, I bet to you too. Our experiences form us, it’s the nurture part of nature vs. nurture.
Dogs are definitely like us in this realm. They develop so quickly since their lives are so short. In one year, they are the equivalent of the age of a 15 year old, that’s a lot of development in one year. Each of their experiences informs how they react to everything in life. This is why early socialization is so important. The critical period of socialization is 2 weeks to 15 weeks. So when a new pet guardian gets a puppy at 8 weeks, they only have 7 weeks left in this very important time. Think of this time as a window for learning that is wide open, each week the window closes a little bit. It never totally closes, because we know that dogs and humans continue to learn and take in information, but associations get formed and they are hard to turn around when it’s a negative association. Example of that; a little pup gets overwhelmed with some young children and is scared. The humans laugh it off and a few months later, the pup is growling and snarling at children. If caught early and using positive reinforcement with a professional trainer, the problem can be turned around. Many times nothing is done and now you have a dog that is dangerous around kids.
Much of dog’s problems, cats too, is lack of experience. Humans don’t socialize their pet when the animal is young and then 6 months later, they have a house visitor and the pet is freaking out. I see so many dogs in the RV world that are scared to be outside, it’s overwhelming for the dog. The guardians probably had the dog at a house all of it’s life, maybe a back yard, and now the dog is being taken to new places every day. It’s kinda like if you grew up in a house until you were 25, then were told to go travel the world, you would not have the tools to do so successfully. These dogs need small doses of new places with a lot of positive reinforcement (think bacon).
We are what we take from each experience in life, and experiences are extremely important to our dogs too, making them either fun loving creatures or trembling scared pets. So do your best to take your dog along and help them have good experiences. If your pup is scared, don’t force him, let him take in a new situation as his own pace. If it’s too much, leave.
Take your Dog Along.…. when it’s appropriate!
“And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count, it’s the life in your years.” Abraham Lincoln