How To Socialize Your New Puppy
The point of dog socialization is to make your puppy feel comfortable as a pet within the society that you live. This means your dog is happy and respectful with you and your family, other people in your life, other dogs and animals and the environment around them such as buildings and open spaces.
When a puppy is really young it is natural for them to get used to their everyday surroundings, and the things that they encounter each day. When they get to a certain age, it is also natural for them to be concerned and suspicious about things that they haven’t encountered yet. This period of learning about their environment is essential for your puppy’s development.
If this natural learning and accepting every day experiences wasn’t there, then your puppy would probably be afraid of everything, from people speaking to the slightest movement in their environment. All animals, including humans have this gift from Mother Nature that helps with their initial development.
When this learning period is over, your puppy should have developed enough experience to accept most things that he will encounter. It will not bother him when people are talking or when leaves are rustling in the wind. He will be cautious about new experiences because these could represent danger for him, and this is a built in safety mechanism.
What Is The Right Time To Carry Out Puppy Socialization?
This is best done when your puppy is between 3 weeks old and 3 months old. They should still be willing to accept new experiences without too much caution during this time frame. Once they have passed 3 months old, the over cautious sensitivity will kick in and it will be tougher to get them to accept new things.
It is not impossible to socialize puppies between 12 weeks and 18 weeks old but it will be more difficult, and with each passing week it becomes even more of a challenge. It certainly isn’t impossible though. Once your puppy is older than 18 weeks, then you really are going to have a tough time with him facing new encounters and accepting and even enjoying them.
So Why Is Socializing Puppies Important?
If your puppy is well socialized then they have every chance of developing into a relaxed, fun and safe adult dog. They will be able to handle a lot more situations calmly and comfortably than a dog that has not had social training. A poorly socialized dog can develop fear when they are confronted with something new and this can make them aggressive.
A dog that has not been socialized can find it very difficult when it comes to meeting new people. This is not a good situation as new people are a common part of life. There can be other problems too such as your dog’s reaction to vets, loud noises, other pets (especially cats), stairs, crowded places and even other dogs.
You want your dog to be as relaxed as possible, so exposing him to these situations early in his life is always advisable. If your dog has not been socialized and stresses out at the most common of noises or other situations then life will be difficult for him and you as well.
The degree of socialization training that you undertake is up to you. You can go for a little socialization or a whole lot. The larger the variety of experiences that you can present to your young puppy, the more likely that he will be a relaxed adult dog when he is confronted with similar experiences in the future.
The Best Way To Socialize Your Puppy
Puppy socialization is a large undertaking, and you need to think about the things that your puppy is likely to be exposed to in the future. Your life will change over the years, so you need to be sure that he will be comfortable with these changes. For example if you don’t have any children at the moment and are planning to have them, then exposure to crying babies is a good idea.
On the children theme, when your kids get older they will go to school and play with other children. This can be a very noisy experience for a dog, so exposing them to this early is advisable. Then there are the other everyday things such as cars, motorcycles and trucks, trains, other dogs, cats, birds, people on bicycles, large numbers of people and other animals such as cows and sheep.
You will not be able to expose your puppy to every possible sound and movement under the sun, but you do want to cover off all of the most common things that you can. The 3 weeks to 3 month old period is crucial for this. Try to introduce him to as many common situations as you can during this period.
If he encounters something new after that time, then he will have a good chance of recalling something similar during his socialization and be reasonably relaxed about it. The experiences that you must cover as a minimum are new people, grooming, loud noises, the various noises of transportation and other dogs and cats, as he is sure to confront these things in his life.
How Do You Know If The Socialization Is Working?
You need to monitor your puppy’s reaction when you introduce him to new things. If you think that he is overwhelmed by the situation, then you need to tone this down until he is comfortable with it. When he does react well to a new experience, then make sure that you praise him and provide a special treat in the form of some food or a game he likes playing.
A classic case of going over the top with socialization is introducing too many new people or new dogs or both! You might think that it is a good idea to invite a lot of people over and ask them to all bring their dogs. Your puppy now has to big issues to deal with – new people and new dogs. This could send him over the edge, and make him hide behind you in fear the whole time. Some puppies will handle this kind of situation and some wont.
If your puppy does get scared after a new encounter, then take a step back and gradually introduce him to it. Instead of inviting a small army of strangers and their dogs, invite one person alone and then next time with their dog.
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DISCLAIMER: The information on this site is not intended to replace the advice of your own veterinarian or doctor. Should you think that your pet needs medical attention, please contact your local veterinarian.