A puppy and kitten

When it comes to young dogs and cats, socialization means more than just helping your furry friend learn how to get along with other animals. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), socialization helps your pet feel comfortable with different people, activities, pets, and places. Here at Switzer Veterinary Clinic, we see the benefits of socialization all the time. Let’s take a look.

Why Socialization Matters

Socialization helps prepare your pet for the many different situations life will throw at her. When puppies and kittens are introduced to a variety of experiences early on, they’re more comfortable in their own skin as adults. 

With socialization, your pet will find it easier to: 

  • Attend veterinary appointments
  • Play at the dog park
  • Feel comfortable around children
  • Cope with unpredictable sounds, sights, and smells
  • Receive urgent medical care

The AVMA recommends that dogs and cats begin socialization during what’s called the sensitive period. For cats, this is between 3 weeks and 9 weeks of age. In dogs, the window is a bit longer—from 3 weeks to about 14 weeks of age. 

Your young pet’s brain is forming core impressions about the world around her. Waiting to start socializing your pet after the sensitive period may mean she’ll need to unlearn core beliefs. 

How to Socialize Your Pet

The easiest way to socialize your pet is to build a pet socialization plan for your puppy or kitten. Focus on one or two activities each day or week—whatever works best. Include activities like: 

  • Riding in a crate in the car
  • Meeting other animals, including dogs and cats of various breeds
  • Going for a walk in a park with other people and pets around
  • Visiting a dog park
  • Greeting your family and friends, including children
  • Attending a local socialization or training class

Just make sure your young pet has all the vaccines he needs before visiting a dog park or attending a behavior group.  

You can reach out to the team at Switzer Veterinary Clinic for more tips on socializing your puppy or kitten. After all, we want them to feel comfortable and calm when they visit us!