5 Tips for Socializing Your Puppy
Proper socialization should be one of your top priorities when it comes to training your new puppy. One of the best things you can do for your new dog is to help introduce them to different people, places & dogs in a positive way. Luckily there’s some simple ways to turn socialization into a fun exercise that both you and your new pup will enjoy.
The Importance of Socializing Your Puppy
Socialization is often overlooked as a form on training, it’s actually one of the very first things you should start with your new puppy. Dog’s go through what some call an imprinting period from birth until around 14 weeks of age. During this time they’re open to learning about the world around them and accepting new situations.
If you take the time to introduce your young puppy to as many new situations, people, places and animals you’re much more likely to have a well adjusted, calmer family dog down the road. During this time they need to learn about new smells, sights and sounds, all with a positive effect. They’re not immune to fear at this age, but they’re more likely to accept any situation they feel as safe.
Even dogs from breeds that have a very good reputation for loving people will need to be thoroughly socialized as puppies, to make sure that they have lots of great experiences being around all kinds of different people. – The Importance of Early Socialization, Dog Star Daily
Not Socializing Properly Comes With Risks
The risk of not socializing your new pup is high. When a dog isn’t properly socialized they’re much more likely to be fearful of new places, people and dogs later on.
Under socialized dogs might be shy and fearful, cowering near their owner at all times. Some dogs deal with fear by becoming aggressive and reactive. Some will be shut down with fear, hiding from anything new or unfamiliar. Others are likely to lunge and bark at anything that moves. Some will just be overstimulated and excited by anything new they see, this over abundance of energy can lead to fights with other dogs.
Of course socialization isn’t a guarantee for good behavior, but it’s one of the best investments you can make when your pup is young and impressionable.
A dog’s first 12 weeks of life are the most crucial for socializing, since this is when the pup most readily adapts to new people, animals and stimuli without any trepidation, according to the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB). – Animal Behavior College
Health Risks Associated With Puppy Socialization
Puppies aren’t fully vaccinated during their first 14 weeks, leaving them susceptible to various diseases and infections. Because of the increased risks there are some precautions to keep in mind.
Rather than taking your puppy to the dog park try enrolling your dog in a puppy training or socialization class. Puppy classes are generally well organized and held indoors which decreases the likelihood of your dog being exposed to something harmful.
Keep the Meetings Controlled & Positive
The goal of socialization is to make all of these unique experiences positive. While the dog park is a popular place to meet other dogs it’s not necessarily the best place to socialize a young puppy. It can be overwhelming for them, and you have no control over what other people’s dogs are going to do. Negative meetings or interactions can cause setbacks when it comes to socialization.
To keep interactions positive have people to give your dog a treat or toy. Not all dogs are outgoing and friendly when meeting new dogs, so remember to ask permission before letting your puppy approach another dog.
Introduce Your Dog To Different People, Places, and Dogs
One of the keys to socialization is to have your dog interact with a wide variety of people, dogs and places. Have you dog meet people and dogs of all ages and sizes, and take them to places with different sights and sounds.
When my dog Laika was young we took her to the local park to meet small groups of people at a time. We also took her to the vet’s office, pet store and gas station on a regular basis to get her used to meeting new people and dogs.
Get Your Dog Used to Having Visitors Over
One of the best ways to socialize your puppy is to do it at home by inviting plenty of guests over. It’s easier to control the environment at home, and it’s a good way to get your dog used to having different visitors over to the house.
Have your friends & neighbors bring their dogs over to your house for a meet and greet. Invite your family over to watch the game, and have your children bring their friends over after school. Inviting people over will help your dog get accustomed to having visitors over.
To have friends visit your house and interact with your pup, to pick him up, feed him, play with him, and talk to him soothingly, are all good experiences for him. – The Importance of Socializing Pups, Pet Place
Proper puppy socialization takes commitment on your part, but it’s worth it in the long run. The socialization your pup gets will shape the way they interact with the world around them. If done positively you’ll end up with a calmer and more confident dog.