The most peculiar nature that makes a dog different from its nearest ancestor ‘the white wolf’ is its relationship with humans. The dog has evolved for thousands of years to interact and live with human beings we call this phenomenon domestication.
However, as a puppy does not have innate tendency to recognize human beings this has to be learned or acquired. Apart from socializing with other dogs and identifying its own species puppies learn to recognize other species at the same time.
Puppies are curious about their environment and things about them and they begin to show this curiosity at very early age of 3 weeks. They explore and inspect the unfamiliar things around them. This investigation behavior continues and peaks at 5 weeks age and subsides thereafter until 9 months age and puppies show complete disinterest in unfamiliar after 12 week age.
Gentle handling and human experience at this sensitive period of puppy growth are crucial for its behavior towards human in future as an adult dog. Interspecies socialization develops an attachment towards human handler. But this attachment is learned and acquired and needs to be reinforced.
Factors that influence the level of attachment with a human including:
Breed: Different breeds have a different threshold of attraction towards the human. Labradors are more friendly towards other species than Pitbull Terriers.
Sex: Females get early and better socialized than male dogs.
Environmental Experience: A good and healthy experience attracts puppies towards other species and makes them more friendly with a human.
Parent Nature (filial imprinting): If the mother is nervous and fearful of human, puppies also acquire that nature and it may take more effort to socialize them.
EFFECT ON DOG BEHAVIOR:
- Lack of contact or bad experience with humans at early sensitive period may induce fearfulness or wariness in puppies towards human which may be very difficult to correct later in life.
- Early socialization with other species subsides predatory behavior of the dog and develops an interspecies
- Early interaction with different human individuals facilitates generalized socialization with a human.
Early and healthy human contact plays an important role in behavior towards human later in life of the adult dog. Kennel conditions and behavior of breeder thus play important role in temperament of the dog. Also, the effect of behavior and nature of parent bitch should not be undermined.