Socializing a Puppy: Why, When and How
Socializing a puppy is something that you need to do from the very first day you bring your pup home.
How exactly do you go about doing this?
Here is everything you need to know…
WHAT DOES SOCIALIZING A PUPPY MEAN?
Socializing a puppy means that your puppy should be meeting as many new people and animals as possible. It involves exposing your puppy to different environments, sights and sounds, making these experiences as pleasant for your puppy as possible.
Why It’s Important to Socialize a Puppy
Socialized puppies grow into dogs that are comfortable with the world around them.
Proper socialization when young means that a dog is less likely to develop any behavioral problems. On the other hand, pups who are not socialized properly can often develop fear or aggression issues when they are older. This is particularly the case when the dog is exposed to something new.
WHEN SHOULD YOU SOCIALIZE A PUPPY?
Your puppy goes through what is known as a socialization period between the ages of seven weeks and four months.
The socialization that takes place during this period will have a permanent impact on your pup’s personality and character as an adult.
It goes without saying that this is the most important time to socialize a dog.
Of course, if you are buying a pup, you won’t be bringing him home until he is about eight or twelve weeks old…
This is why it is so important to buy a puppy from a responsible breeder. They will know how to socialize the pup during this time, and will start doing so from when the puppies are just three weeks old.
HOW TO SOCIALIZE A PUPPY
When it comes to socializing a puppy, there are a few basic steps that everyone should follow:
Exposure to New Things
The world will seem like a strange place to your puppy, and an important part of socializing is exposing your pup to all of this.
Here are some examples:
Different people – including men, women and children of all ages. Exposing your puppy to people wearing different types of accessories, such as hats and umbrellas, can also be helpful, as can introducing your puppy to people in wheelchairs or men with big beards
Different animals – such as other dogs, cats, chickens, other birds and livestock
Different floor surfaces – including carpet, tiles, laminate flooring, marble, grass, mud, sand and wood
Chaotic environments – such as train stations, school playgrounds, crowded markets, construction sites
Involve Family and Friends
When it comes to socializing a puppy, this is something that the whole family should get involved in.
Your puppy needs to learn that these new experiences are safe, no matter who he may be with.
It can also be useful to have your puppy accustomed to being handled and looked after by other family members. If you need them to watch your dog while you are away, your pup won’t mind this one bit!
Signing your pup up for puppy classes can also be a great tool when it comes to socializing a puppy.
What do puppy classes involve?
They will help you to teach your pup everything from basic commands to fun tricks. They are a great way for your puppy to meet other dogs and people in a safe environment.
Keep It Fun
Not only should your puppy be exposed to all of the above, but you need to also make sure that each experience is a positive one for your pup.
Keep your socializing time fun and playful, bringing along treats and toys to distract your puppy if he becomes fearful of anything. Reward positive behavior as much as possible.
SOCIALIZING A PUPPY WHO IS UNVACCINATED
Well-bred puppies will naturally have antibodies from their mothers, but many veterinarians advise that puppies do not walk in areas where unknown animals may have walked. This is to prevent them from picking up a disease before their full course of vaccinations has been completed.
However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t socialize your pup…
You can still expose your pup to all of the suggestions mentioned above. Just hold your puppy in your arms, or purchase a bag that makes it easier to carry your pup around. Even allowing your pup to see the sights, sounds and smells of the world from an open car window can make a huge difference to his development.
HOW TO SOCIALIZE A SHY PUP
Whether due to a traumatic experience, genetics, or their breed being particularly sensitive, some puppies are simply more shy than others.
This can make socializing a puppy quite the challenge…
A shy pup will react fearfully to new situations, but this makes socialization even more important.
However, you do need to make sure that you take it at your puppy’s pace. If your pup seems fearful of something, put more distance between your pup and the object, and allow your puppy to explore it in his own time.
Your pup’s body language will tell you when your puppy is afraid. Signs of this include:
A submissive posture
When your puppy is showing signs of fear at a new situation, try not to provide too much comfort.
This can be hard to do, but you want your puppy to gain the confidence to deal with those types of situations on his own.
However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t reward your puppy. This is especially important when they have made any progress and shown their braver side.
While it is important to keep socialization fun and positive for any dog, this is even more the case with a shy pup.
Make sure that you do not intimidate or raise your voice at your pup. You need your pup to learn that he can really trust you.
Remember, always set your puppy up for success.
Properly socializing a puppy is absolutely crucial if you want your pup to grow into a healthy, happy and well-balanced dog. The socialization period is not very long, so make sure that you put extra time and effort into ensuring that your pup gets as much socialization as possible during this time.
What are some of your favorite ways of socializing a puppy?