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How to Socialize a Puppy–Stop the Fear Before it Starts

Laura Day

May 15, 2019

How to Socialize a Puppy

Socialization is an important aspect of a puppy’s life. Helping yours get familiar with his environment and the people and animals in it will have a huge impact on his health and happiness later on! Puppies who are not socialized grow up to become more anxious and sometimes aggressive.

You want what’s best for your puppy, so you need to get started with the socialization process as soon as possible. That may be a little difficult if you do not know exactly when you should start or how to best go about it. Don’t worry! You’re about to learn everything you need to know to begin improving Spot’s life.

When to Start Socializing Your Puppy

The best time to start the socialization process is as soon as your puppy enters your home for the first time. Helping him get familiar with his surroundings will ease anxiety and boost his happiness, especially because you are around to protect him.

According to the American Kennel Club, the most important time in a puppy’s life for general socialization occurs between 7 weeks and 4 months of age. The frequency in which you do this will affect your pup’s personality later.

How Often to Socialize a Puppy

Some pet owners think that socialization does not need to take place frequently. That’s not true! One visit with the outside world per week is not enough time for your puppy to adapt to the new things that he’s experiencing.

For the best results, you should introduce him to the outside world every single day. That doesn’t just mean taking him out on a walk, though that helps. You have to focus on various aspects of the environment repeatedly.

Puppy Socialization Basics

People

Just being around people is not enough for a puppy to be properly socialized. He needs to meet all sorts of different faces to truly be comfortable in public situations later on! This includes:

  • Babies/toddlers/small children. One of the biggest hurdles a puppy has to overcome is meeting with young children. Kids do not always understand boundaries, and neither do puppies. Supervise these visits carefully. This will teach your puppy to be gentle around the little ones, and it, in turn, teaches children to respect animals more.
  • Different races. Humans are a spectrum, and each race has unique features that a puppy should be able to recognize to understand that they are the same as you! It will help him trust people more.
  • Elderly people. The older members of our society love playing with and petting puppies. Yours should be introduced to them in order to be able to accept affection from people that he may not know. Do this gradually; don’t frighten your pup by forcing him to do something that he does not like. Stay with him and make sure he feels safe.
  • Family members. This will be easy if you have family members that visit regularly. You don’t even necessarily have to go anywhere to help your puppy feel comfortable around them!

Animals

Socializing a puppy with other animals is absolutely vital if you plan to be around others in the future. While dogs may be afraid of humans, they will be aggressive toward other dogs and cats. This could lead to a whole lot of trouble that no one wants, so it is better to arrange a playdate now.

Socializing a puppy with other animalsTry and find a range of different dog breeds and sizes to introduce your pup to. This will lessen the fear reactions and eventual aggression when he gets older.

  • Introduce puppies to cats carefully. This is mostly for your own pet’s safety. Puppies are curious and generally playful; some cats do not respond well to that. If you exercise caution, no one will get scratched on the nose. The first visits you take him to should not be remembered as being associated with pain.
  • Other pets. If you have any other pets in your household, familiarize your puppy with them. They all need to get along in order to have a peaceful and safe household.

Places

The places that your puppy should be familiar with most are:

  • Your house
  • Your yard
  • The neighborhood
  • The park
  • The vet

Make all of these experiences good and relaxed ones. Your pup should be more excited to go places if you introduce him to new surroundings properly.

Things

  • The vacuum cleaner. This is the bane of every pet’s existence, but you can lessen that fear by slowly introducing your puppy to it. Let him sniff it and touch it while it’s off and let him stick around when you turn it on. He could be in his crate, in another room spectating, or whatever else is safest!
  • The bath. Unlike cats, dogs need pretty frequent baths. At first, this can be anxiety-inducing for puppies. Gently bathe yours and feed him treats from time to time.
  • The car. Going for rides is fun for dogs but getting used to the fast motion and the noise from other cars is scary. Frequently take him on rides to the park or around the block, not just to the vet.

Socialization Tips

When socializing your puppy, remember these tips to make the experience as safe and stress-free as possible:

  • It’s not a good idea to introduce your pet to other animals until he has all of his necessary vaccines, especially for rabies. Rabies is fatal in dogs; don’t take the risk.
  • Always supervise playdates. It helps your puppy feel calm, and it keeps him from getting hurt by someone or something else.
  • Don’t rush it. If your pup is not comfortable with some interactions yet, limit the time you spend doing this. Gradually acclimate him to the environment. Forcing it is counterproductive.
  • Bring treats to encourage the puppy to interact with others. Positive reinforcement is just as good for this as it is for training commands. You will help link these experiences to happiness in his brain, which makes further socialization a little bit easier.
  • When the time is right, you can take your fur baby to puppy classes. Professional dog trainers will really help you out here. Their job is to teach commands, socialize the puppies, and keep everyone safe during the process. You will have to attend with him, but that’s beneficial because you learn from the best while he learns, too!

Your patience and persistent effort will eventually pay off. Your puppy will grow into a polite, playful, and happy dog who gets along with just about everybody!


Bringing a new family addition into the home is extremely exciting! Becoming a new puppy parent comes with a ton of new joys, challenges and responsibilities. PupBox was created to help new puppy parents like yourself, by providing all of the toys, treats, accessories and training information you need, when you need it. CLICK HERE to learn more about PupBox.


And remember, puppyhood is fast and is gone before you know it. Make sure to savor the time when your pup is young, and take lots of pictures along the way!