Like human children, puppies are not born with the social skills that they require to live with their family, be that a canine family or a human one. The term “socialisation” in simple terms means the learning process that a puppy must undergo in order to learn key life skills to ensure that it is happy and confident in its environment, and can communicate effectively within its social group.
All animals, including dogs, have a special sensitive period at the start of their lives. During this time, they learn to accept things around them so that they are not afraid of them later in life. In puppies, this window of opportunity closes at about 12-16 weeks of age. (which is why it is so important to acquire a puppy reared in a home environment and not outside in runs or kennels)
Anything that is encountered during this time will be tolerated, even enjoyed. After the window closes, unfamiliar people, objects and experiences are approached with caution and may become fearful, which could ultimately lead to aggression.
The most common cause of fear and aggression is lack of socialisation. A puppy does not have to be miss-treated to become afraid of people or new experiences.
Puppy socialisation involves having pleasant social interactions with adults, children, vets, adult dogs and other animals, as well as careful exposure to different situations in the environment like traffic, crowds, travelling in the car, vacuum cleaners and any sights and sounds it will have to cope with in life. It is so important that this is done thoroughly and correctly when your puppy is still young and he is young enough to happily accept new things.
Socialisation ideas: Enrol in puppy school; take your pup along on outings; arrange to meet friendly dogs in the park; take him to the beach; take him to watch polo; pop in at the vet for a treat and most importantly, walk him regularly.
Follow this link for a comprehensive list on the things that your puppy should be exposed to http://www.jollytails.ca/DrYinPupSocializationList.pdf