Anna Leppien BZ/VS 479 November 27, 2007The Effects of Socialization or Lack of Socialization during the Critical Socialization Period in Dogs Raised in a One Person HouseholdIntroduction As an increasing amount of people around the world become dog owners, newproblems arise. Among these problems are behavioral issues, which may have existedbefore, but have become more of a problem with the increase of dogs in more populatedareas, and with the inclusion of dogs into the owner’s everyday life. Domestic dogs havea natural tendency to develop an attachment to their owner as early as sixteen weeks, atrait that genetically sets them apart from wolves (Topal, et al., 2005). However, it is nolonger enough for a dog to only be well behaved around its owner. Today’s societyexpects, even demands, that a dog be well behaved in all situations. Numerous studies have shown that socialization both with other dogs (Fox andStelzner, 1967) and with humans (Fox and Stelzner, 1966; Freedman, et al., 1961),especially during a puppy’s critical socialization period, is imperative to development ofnormal behavior in an adult dog. The critical socialization period of a puppy has beenshown to be between three and twelve weeks of age (Freedman, et al., 1961). During thistime, dogs have a tendency to focus on other dogs for their social stimuli from three toeight weeks of age and on people from five to twelve weeks of age (Aiello and Mays,1998). Veterinarians recommend that owners socialize their puppies by exposing them tomany new people, which should include people from different age groups andbackgrounds, and to new things such as stairs, different kinds of vehicles and bicycles(Horwitz, 1999). Owners should also expose their puppies to other puppies and adultdogs (Horwitz, 1999). One method of socializing puppies with other puppies is to bring
Anna Leppien BZ/VS 479 November 27, 2007them to a puppy socialization class once they have been given their preliminary vaccines(Horwitz, 1999). Seksel, et al. (1999) determined that puppy socialization programs,which included social interaction with other puppies and exposure to novel stimuli, didnot have a significant behavioral effect on dogs as compared with those who were not inthe socialization program. However, these dogs were only socialized in four one-hoursessions, and the study did not account for any socialization occurring at home. In fact,the area of puppy socialization lacks in depths look at the effects of increased ordecreased amounts of socialization occurring in the owner’s home. I think a study thatlooks at the amount of socialization given by the puppy’s owner and its subsequenteffects on the behavior of the adult dog is necessary because it gives a more realisticinsight on socialization of pet dogs than a study conducted in a laboratory setting.Materials and Methods In this study, we will look at different aspects of socialization including withchildren of different ages, other dogs, walking in different situations such as down a citystreet and in the park, and going to a veterinary hospital for a routine exam. All dogs willlive a relatively normal home life, but will experience differing levels of socialization.Each dog will live in a separate house (no apartments, town homes, or duplexes will beallowed) with an adult owner. No children or other dogs are allowed to live or spendsignificant time in the household. Owners who have dogs in the children or dogsocialization groups or a dog that is to be socialized in all categories will be allowed tohave children or dogs spending more time in the household. However, even in thesegroups, children and dogs will not be allowed to live in the households and will only be
Anna Leppien BZ/VS 479 November 27, 2007allowed to spend 3-4 hours two times a week in the house. The houses will have a fencedin back yard large enough to give the dog significant room in which to play. Sixty dogs from various breeds will be used in the study. Socialized dogs will bedivided into 5 groups: socialized in all aspects, socialized with just children, just dogs,just walking, and just going to the veterinary hospital. Non socialized dogs will bedivided into the same groups with a lack of socialization occurring in each group. Eachgroup will consist of six dogs, one from each of six breeds chosen for the study. Thesebreeds include the Australian Shepherd, Pit Bull, Labrador Retriever, Chihuahua, GreatDane, and Fox Terrier. It is hoped that the variation in breeds will help to removeinfluences on behavior that might be more prominent in certain breeds. Moreover, thebreeds were chosen to include a great variation in size as behaviors attributed to lack ofsocialization may be perceived differently in different sized dogs. Once the puppies are placed into their groups, they will be tested for theirreactions before they are sent home with their owners. They will then be retested at 6months, 12 months, 18 months, 2 years, and 5 years. This will allow us to study thedogs’ behavior well into adulthood. We will go to the owner’s house to conduct tests,with the exception of the pre-placement test, in order to keep the situations more realistic.All owners will receive specific instructions on how to socialize their dogs in thedifferent categories. Those owners who have dogs in the non socialized groups will betold what is allowed and what they need to avoid. No dogs will be completely isolatedbut, rather will receive minimal socialization in certain areas, especially as a puppy.Moreover, owners of dogs in the socialization groups are to keep a journal record of their
Anna Leppien BZ/VS 479 November 27, 2007socialization periods. At each testing period, owners will be asked to fill out a survey todetermine their perception of the dog’s behavior. Puppies that are in the group to be socialized with children will be introduced tomany children in different situations while they are a puppy. It is important that thepuppies are not constantly socialized with the same children so that familiarity withspecific children does not influence the dogs’ behavior. As part of the socializationprocess, one or two children will come to the house for at least two hours once a week,but no more than four hours twice a week. At the house, the child will spend some timepetting and playing with the puppy, but will also spend some time engaged in its ownactivities or playing with the other child when two children are present. Both whileplaying with the puppy and while engaging in its own activities, the child will have someperiods when it is very calm and some periods of higher excitement levels. In addition toseeing children in its house, the puppy will be brought to a playground where it canwatch children playing and where children can approach and pet the puppy. To ensurethe safety of children during the socialization process, no child will be left alone with thepuppy. Children will also be taught how to play with the puppy in a manner that does notfrighten or hurt the puppy. Puppies that are to be socialized with other dogs will be introduced to dogs ofvarying sizes, ages, and breeds. Socialization will include puppy play dates at theowner’s house, for at least two hours once a week, but not more than 4 hours two times aweek. During this time, the puppies will have some time to play in the absence of toysand some time to play with toys. There will also be some time where the owners of thetwo dogs try to keep them calm in the presence of each other. Puppies will also be
Anna Leppien BZ/VS 479 November 27, 2007brought to a dog park at least once a week for at least 90 minutes each time. Puppies ofthe smaller breeds will be allowed to play in a small, enclosed area of the dog park so thatthey don’t get hurt. However, it is imperative that these puppies have other dogs to playwith in the enclosures. Puppies will also spend one day every other week at a doggy daycare where they will spend the whole day with numerous other dogs. Puppies that are to receive socialization with walking will be walked at least fourtimes a week. The walks along the city streets will begin on quieter, less busy streets togive the puppy time to get used to the sound of traffic. The owner will gradually movethe walks closer to busier streets. Owners will also walk the puppies in a park where theymay be more likely to see runners and bicyclists. During the walks, owners will train thepuppies to heel and to ignore such distractions. Puppies that are socialized at a veterinary hospital will be brought to the hospitalonce a week. During these visits, the puppy will be given treats and will be petted byvarious members of the staff, including the receptionist, veterinary technician, andveterinarian if available. The puppy will be weighed at each visit, and if the hospital isnot busy, the puppy will be brought into a room. However, no work will be done on thepuppy during these visits. The puppy and owner will only remain in the room for 3minutes during which available members of the staff will again pet and play with thepuppy. It is important that actual exams remain separate from the socialization visits,even if the puppy must be brought to the vet hospital twice in one week. As mentioned earlier, puppies that are not in any socialization groups are not toremain isolated. Rather, the owners will simply not strive to socialize their dogs in any ofthese categories. For example, the owner may walk the dog occasionally but must
Anna Leppien BZ/VS 479 November 27, 2007commit to taking shorter walks along quiet streets that do not have much traffic.Furthermore, dogs that are to be socialized in one group must remain unsocialized in theother groups. This may mean that an owner socializing his dog in walking may have totell children who approach that they cannot pet his dog at that time. As mentioned before, testing of the dogs will occur at the owner’s house with thedirect involvement of the owner. A video camera will be set up in the testing areas of theowner’s house and yard so that the dog is not distracted by the test observer. In testingsituations outside of the owner’s home, the observer will remain as far away from the dogwhile still observing so that they do not influence the dog’s behavior. As we cannot danger children, testing with socialization to children will beconducted in a very controlled manner, with the testing stopped if the dog shows fear orany signs of aggression. Children will be divided into three age groups: two to threeyears old, five to seven years old, and eleven to thirteen years old. Children in the firsttwo age groups will be accompanied by an adult while those in the last age group willreceive significant training on how to behave around the dog. This test will start in aquiet room in the owner’s house. The owner will have the dog on a leash in this room forone minute. A child will enter and slowly and calmly approach the dog to begin pettingit. If the dog allows, the child will continue petting it for one minute after which it willbegin playing with the dog. After playing with the dog for one minute, the child and dogwill go outside in the yard to play for one minute. After playing with the dog outside forone minute, the child will again calm down, and another child will enter the yard. Thetwo children will ignore the dog and play with each other calmly for one minute. After
Anna Leppien BZ/VS 479 November 27, 2007one minute of calm play, the two children will play a little more roughly, running aroundand yelling with some bodily contact with each other. Testing of socialization with dogs will include two scenarios. The first will beginin the owner’s house. The owner will be sitting in a quiet room in the house with the dogon a leash for one minute. After one minute, another person will enter with a wellbehaved dog on a leash. The person will slowly approach with the dog and the dogs willbe allowed to sniff and greet each other for 30 seconds. If no problems are encounteredduring the 30 second greeting period, the second dog will be taken off the leash andallowed to interact with the first dog for another 30 seconds. The first dog will then begiven five feet of slack on its leash to allow it to interact more with the second dog for 30seconds. After 30 seconds, the first dog will be taken off the leash as well. After oneminute both dogs will be put back on leashes and brought outside. Outside, the seconddog will be taken off the leash for one minute. After one minute, the first dog will alsobe taken off the leash, and the dogs will be allowed to interact for one minute. The second scenario to test for socialization with dogs will occur at a dog park.At the dog park, the dog will be kept on a leash for one minute while other dogs come upto greet it. During this time the owner will try to keep overly playful dogs from jumpingall over the test dog. After one minute, the owner will bring the dog to a closed offsection of the dog park and keep it in there with the second dog used earlier for oneminute. After one minute, the dog will be allowed to interact with the other dogs in themain area of the dog park for five minutes. To test for socialization with walking, the owner will walk the dog from theirhome along non-busy residential streets. During the walk the dog will be exposed to other
Anna Leppien BZ/VS 479 November 27, 2007people, some of whom are walking their dogs or who are working in their yards. Theowner will gradually move toward busier streets where the dog will be exposed to highervolumes of traffic. The owner will also walk the dog in a park, starting in a quieter areaof the park and moving toward a busier area. While it is not possible to control all aspectsof the walks, they will be somewhat structured in that each dog will be exposed to thesame situations as part of the testing process. During walking in both situations, the dogwill be exposed to other people who are walking their dog, running, riding a bike, andjogging. To test for socialization at the vet hospital, the dog will be brought into the vethospital for a routine exam. It will sit in the waiting area for five minutes until it is calledback by a veterinary technician. On its way to the room, the dog will be weighed. In theroom, the owner will take a seat while the veterinary technician runs through a series ofquestions lasting for 2 minutes. The technician will then leave, and the owner and dogwill be in the room alone for two minutes. The veterinarian will then enter talk to theowner and conduct the exam. The exam will include having the temperature taken,listening to the heart and lungs, looking at the mouth, ears, and eyes, receiving a vaccine,and having a small amount of blood drawn. When no vaccine is needed, the dog willreceive a subcutaneous injection of saline solution administered in the same way that thevaccine is given. The total time spent with the veterinarian will be ten minutes. Theveterinarian, owner and dog will exit the room and the veterinarian will lead the ownerand dog to the counter for checkout. The owner will spend three minutes checking out,and will then lead the dog outside. The owner will bring the dog to a grassy area and
Anna Leppien BZ/VS 479 November 27, 2007allow one minute for the dog to smell around and go to the bathroom if necessary. Theowner will then bring the dog to the car and leave. Discussion As mentioned before, socialization during the critical socialization period of apuppy is imperative for normal behavior in an adult dog. Earlier studies have looked at acomplete lack of socialization in certain aspects While these studies provided importantinformation on the effects of socialization in general, they were performed in laboratorysettings. They are therefore not completely realistic to a home setting where the dogssuffer from a lack rather than a complete absence of socialization in most aspects. It is hoped that a study of this type and magnitude will not only provide a morerealistic insight into the effects of proper puppy socialization, but that it will also provideveterinarians and owners with a guide of how to properly socialize a puppy. Dependingon the results of this study, it will be followed with another study determining whether asocialization program such as that used in this study would be effective for dogs that arealready past the critical socialization period.
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