One of the most important jobs you have as a new dog parent is to raise a well-adjusted puppy. Through proper socialization your puppy will grow into a happy, confident and loyal companion.
When To Start
From the age of 8 weeks to 16 weeks, your puppy will develop impressions of what is acceptable and normal. Through socialization not only will your puppy’s personality be formed, but also how he will react to his environment for the rest of his life. Your puppy should be exposed to a wide variety of people, places and situations.
Socialization will help your puppy to get used to all types of smells, sounds and sights. If your puppy is properly socialized, he will not be fearful of children, car rides and will become a happy companion. Improper socialization can lead to behavioral problems.
How To Socialize
During socialization expose your puppy to new things and carefully ensure that they are positive ones.
- Make it positive – When exposing your puppy to a new experience or situation, make sure you give him plenty of treats. These new situations should be for a short period of time. If you want your puppy to be comfortable with other people, start with just one or two people. If your puppy seems stressed, do not force him. If your puppy encounters something that he is afraid of, console him than change his attention to something positive and fun.
- Start With Family – Have different members of the family take part in the socialization. Each member of the household should do something new with the puppy. He will get used different situations. Invite friends to your home with their dogs. Your puppy will get used to having other dogs on his property.
- Go Out In Public – Take your puppy for short walks around your neighborhood. Go with your puppy to a friend’s house for a play date.
- After he has been fully immunized, take your puppy to a dog park for a little while.
- Go To Classes – After your puppy has been fully immunized, puppy kindergarten classes are a great way for your puppy to meet other dogs and people. Trained staff will be there to make sure there is a controlled environment. Your puppy will learn basic commands and to sit quietly next to other dogs. Puppies need interaction with older dogs who will help them understand and respect boundaries.
If you acquire an older dog, you still can socialize him. Slowly expose him to different smells, sights and sounds. Help him through new and fearful situations with positive reinforcement. Praise and treats will help him overcome his fears and hesitation.
Veterinarians And Puppy Socialization
Although veterinarians agree that puppies should be socialized, many insist that your puppy not be taken out into the world until they are fully immunized which is about 16 weeks. After 16 weeks, it is more difficult to socialize your puppy.
Veterinarians stress not to bring your puppies near other dogs or parks if they are not yet immunized.
Safe Way To Socialize
Before your puppy is immunized, you can socialize your puppy in the following ways:
- Invite friends over
- Take your puppy to a friends house
- Invite a friend with a healthy, vaccinated dog
- Take your dog for a walk in a stroller or wagon
- Take a blanket to the park
- Take you puppy for car rides.
- Find businesses or sidewalk cafes that welcome dogs
Places To Avoid
You should not take your new puppy to the following places:
- Dog parks or dog runs where dogs are off leash
- Places where there may be stray, sick or aggressive dogs
- Please where there may be aggressive humans
- Wherever there is a large amount of feces
- Places where dogs are not welcome
It’s Up To You
If you want a puppy that will grow up to be a well-adjusted and confident dog, then you must socialize you puppy.
Remember while you are introducing your puppy to the world, make sure he is safe, comfortable and not fearful.
Both you and your dog will benefit if you take the time to develop a well socialized dog.
He will be a happy and loyal companion for the rest of his life.