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Updated: Dec 3, 2022

Woman wearing gray jacket beside white puppy. Puppy kissing a lady. Depicting puppy's first contact with human.
Photo by Oleksandr Pidvalnyi/pexels


The most peculiar nature that makes a dog different from its nearest ancestor ‘the white wolf’ is its relationship with humans. 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 till 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 is crucial for its behavior towards human in future as an adult dog. Interspecies socialization develops as attachment towards human handler. But this attachment is learned and acquired and needs to be reinforced.

Factors that influence level of attachment with human being includes:

Breed: Different breeds have different threshold of attraction towards human. Labradors are more friendly towards other species than Pit bull 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 human.

Parent Nature (filial imprinting): If mother is nervous and fearful of human, puppies also acquire that nature and it may take more effort to socialize them.


  • 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 dog and develops interspecies attachment.

  • Early interaction with different human individuals facilitates generalized socialization with human.

Early and healthy human contact plays an important role in behavior towards human later in life of adult dog. Kennel conditions and behavior of breeder thus play important role in temperament of dog. Also effect of behavior and nature of parent bitch should not be undermined.

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