A NEW LOOK AT SOCIALIZATION
by Jean D. Petersen, Canine Consultants

PERIODS OF SOCIALIZATION

Imprinting (species identification, integration)

Beginning to build socialization

Reinforcement and further extension of socialization

Desocialization


When early socialization has been well-constructed, and then allowed to fade, it can usually be brought back relatively easily through renewed exposure to the elements previously socialized to.

When early socialization has not been well-constructed:

Fearfulness is a normal and adaptive reaction to the unknown, and can often be seen in a normal, stable dog. However, once the safety of the situation has been realized, the fear response should subside. In a dog with an unsocialized, unstable temperament, it is very difficult to remove a fearful response even with repeated exposure. Sometimes, such a situation can be helped with anxiety-reducing medication, but even that is not always successful.

With rescued animals, it usually is the case that their previous life experiences are not known, and their behavior shows a high level of fearfulness or anxiety. It is not possible to tell at this point whether the dog is stable or not, and socialized or not. The only way one can tell is to try to rehabilitate the dog and see if it works. Unfortunately, the process often takes several weeks or even months.


 

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