By Nan Talleno

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — For dogs, socialization is extremely important. They are pack animals, after all, and without socialization, there is potential for a dog to become fearful, anxious, lonely and isolated.  Unfortunately, this can bring on severe stress and unpredictable behavior.

Ideally, socialization should begin at the puppy stage of life.  The General Socialization Period starts anywhere from 7 to 16 weeks of age but it is possible to socialize an adult dog. But don’t become discouraged, it’s never too late.  As a canine behavioral specialist, I’ve helped many adult dogs overcome socialization issues.

Socialization is essentially the process by which your dog or puppy is safely exposed in a positive way, and in gradual increments, to various new scents, sights, sounds and situations, as well as to people and other animals.  Ultimately, your dog or puppy will come to know these things as normal or routine. Proper socialization allows the puppy or dog to explore these interactive experiences in a positive way without force and at the dog’s own pace. These situations will then not be considered as threatening, frightening or stressful to your dog throughout life. As a result, your dog will be comfortable in everyday situations and you can be more assured of his/her behavior.  This creates a more calm and balanced dog and a healthier way of life.

For more information on canine behavioral training, go to my site at www.peaceinthepack.com