Welfare Implications of Socialization of Puppies and Kittens

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The socialization period in companion animals is the time when they are most open to learning about their environment, their littermates, mother and other animals of their species, humans and other species. It is a time in the life of a puppy or kitten where providing diverse, positive experiences can prevent the development of fearful responses and subsequent behavioral problems. Dogs who had more social contacts or attended puppy classes before twelve weeks of age were less likely to develop fearful or aggressive behavior. Conversely, puppies and kittens dogs who lacked early non-fearful exposure to a range of environments, people, animals may become afraid and avoid
these situations. In general, animals reared in barren environments (both socially and physically) are unable to deal effectively with the environment and activities a normal companion animal will experience. Socialization must be carried out in a manner that is mindful of the risk of disease and injury—however these risks can be managed and should not preclude provision of appropriate socialization experiences as described below.

American Veterinary Medical Association Animal Welfare Division. (2015). Literature Review on the Welfare Implications of Socialization of Puppies & Kittens. Retrieved February 12, 2022, from https://www.avma.org/sites/default/files/resources/socialization_puppies_kittens.pdf

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Topic(s): Behavior, Breeder Resource, Socialization