What exactly is socialization, and why is it so important?

The importance of proper socialization programs continues to be on the forefront of puppy and kitten behavior. Early prevention of behavioral problems, starting with appropriate socialization, is far better than patient rehabilitation and/or medical intervention later on.

Socialization is the introducing and familiarizing a puppy or kitten to new experiences — including people, places, objects and other animals — in ways that help the youngster learn how to respond and interact with these experiences appropriately and without fear. A properly socialized puppy or kitten is well-adjusted and makes a great companion. Unfortunately this critical socialization window is short-lived; approximately 4 to 12 weeks for puppies, and 4 to 14 weeks for kittens.