Socialization is extremely important for puppies. In addition to providing them with exposure to everyday life stimuli, like noises, strange sights and smells, adequate socialization also makes puppies confident, well-adjusted and friendly.
Here are some tips on how to socialize your puppy:
How Socialization Works
Socialization is the process of desensitizing a young puppy to various forms of stimuli, including people, other animals, loud noises, smells, strange textures and busy environments. When a puppy is exposed to these things early, she learns not to be fearful of unfamiliar settings and eventually these lessons produce a happy and comfortable adult dog that is capable of blending into any environment.
When to Begin Socialization
Socialization works best when it starts at a young age. Puppies are open and very accepting between the ages of three and twelve weeks, after which point they become slightly more suspicious of their surroundings and may have a difficult time accepting new experiences. That said, it is wise to begin socializing your puppy as early as possible.
How to Socialize a Puppy
To begin socializing your puppy, all you need to do is begin introducing the dog to new settings. Schedule a puppy play date with a dog that is similar in age, temperament and size or take the dog on a walk down an unfamiliar street. Invite guests over to play gently with your puppy and make sure that the puppy knows what it’s like to walk on material such as grass, concrete and wet sidewalks. As the puppy begins becoming more comfortable, introduce her to cats, other dogs and various other people and animals. Remember that any time your dog seems frightened or overwhelmed, to provide positive reinforcement and a tasty treat. While socialization is all about helping dogs learn to be more comfortable in a variety of settings, it will not help anyone involved to push the dog too fast.
As an alternate method, puppy classes are a great way to socialize young dogs. These classes cater to a young puppy’s unique training and socialization needs and can provide the opportunity to learn plenty of fun, new things in a safe and controlled environment that is unlikely to be overwhelming or scary for your pup.
Since socialization is all about exposing a puppy to new things, it is wise to make sure the dog has all of her needed vaccines before you begin a socialization program. This helps protect both your puppy and any other dogs, animals or humans with which your puppy may come into contact. Consult with your vet regarding your puppy’s vaccination schedule.
If you have recently brought a new puppy home, keep in mind that socialization is one of the best ways to ensure that your new puppy grows into a happy and confident adult dog. In addition to making for a well-adjusted puppy, socialization also provides for a better pet and a gentle, calm companion.