Puppy Socialization

Puppy socialization is key to raising a pet that you enjoy spending time with. Owning a frightened or aggressive dog makes life difficult for everyone around you.

Puppy socialization is a means of introducing the world to your puppy and making him comfortable in it. Everything is brand new and so many experiences will be overwhelming. Puppy socialization works best when it’s accomplished in steps.

Start on a hyper local level. Let your new pet smell and explore every room of your home. Introduce him to other family members and pets. Puppies tire pretty quickly, so many short adventures are better than one long trip around the house. You will know your puppy is comfortable by the way he enters a room. It’s working if his head is held high when he enters a room and he looks curious rather than afraid. Indoor puppy socialization may take several days.

Now it’s time to take your puppy socialization outside. Start with your yard. Dogs find new shapes scary, so a swing set or a tree can be cause for panic. Let your puppy explore on his own at first. If you notice certain spots he is avoiding repeatedly, pick him up and carry him over to them.

Don’t coddle your puppy if new objects scare him. Smile and act confident, as if nothing is wrong. Telling him he’s a “good dog” while showering him with attention will imprint the idea that acting timid earns praise. Try putting a treat next to the offending object and urge your puppy to approach it.

Introduce him to people of every age, ethnicity, size and height in his first few weeks. Give your friends treats to offer the puppy. Once he approaches them and accepts the treat they can reward him with pats and positive reinforcement.

You may be nervous to let your puppy walk in public before he is vaccinated. Puppies can go outside before receiving shots as long as you avoid places where other dogs do their “business.” If you are really worried carry your puppy with you during public puppy socialization.

Have strangers offer him treats, let him smell other vaccinated dogs and, most importantly, let your puppy hear the sounds of your town or city. Don’t comfort your pup if noises scare him, simply act as if nothing out of the ordinary is happening. Once you know which sounds spook him try to preempt them with a treat. See a big truck approaching? Toss your puppy a treat before it passes so he will associate the sound of trucks with food, not fear.

The most important thing to remember is not to force puppy socialization. Let him come to people and objects. If he indicates that he is tired or frustrated, let him do something else. You’ll get there, just don’t rush it.

Image supplied by samsamcardiff, used under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.


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