Socialization of Dogs & Cats

Socialization of Dogs & Cats

Socialization is the process of preparing a cat or dog to be comfortable with other animals, people, places, and activities. Ideally, socialization should begin between the ages of 3 and 14 weeks for puppies, and between 3 and 9 weeks for kittens.

The experience of adopting a kitten or puppy is exciting and wonderful. Bringing in a new pet or adding another pet to your family can also be stressful. A little bit of planning can ensure a new pet develops the calm, confident temperament that can make them a happy pet.

Below are a few suggestions from the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association).

  • When adopting a puppy or kitten, ask for a pre- and post-adoption socialization plan.
  • Create a socialization plan specifically for your dog or cat to prepare him or her for life in your household. Plan exposures to the animals, individuals, environments, activities and objects that will be part of his or her new life.
  • Provide regular positive and diverse experiences to encourage your dog or cat to enjoy new experiences without becoming fearful or aggressive.
  • Provide praise, play and treats to reward engagement. Allow the dog or cat to withdraw if he or she is uncomfortable. Move at a pace appropriate for your pet’s personality.
  • Well-managed puppy or kitten socialization classes are a good way to socialize your new pet within the sensitive period.
  • Puppies or kittens that are not fully vaccinated should not be exposed to unvaccinated animals or places they may have been (such as outdoor parks).
  • Continue to reward your dog or cat for calm or playful responses to social interactions throughout his or her life.
  • For dogs or cats with special behavioral needs, develop a plan with your veterinarian and/or another animal behavior expert.