Puppy Socialization is one of those terms that gets thrown around a lot. Yes, it is important but why is it so crucial and how do you go about doing it? Think of socialization as the ‘Tao of Raising A Well Mannered Dog.’ You are turning your terrified little puppy into an outgoing adventurer, who is both confident and kind. Socialization is a process, but in the end, you must make your pup realize that nothing is as scary as it initially seems. You must encourage your puppy to be outgoing, to grab courage by the balls and give it a sniff!
Socialization should start the moment your puppy enters his new home. Like a healthy diet and exercise, it needs to be a way of life in order to be effective. Socializing your pup occasionally and hoping for a miracle is not going to fly, and can often be counterproductive. It needs to start on day one and continue each and every day. Some days you may do more and some days you may do less, but remember to always stay social, especially in the early months. You need to create an environment and routine that makes the uncommon and uncomfortable perfectly acceptable.
Useful Puppy Socialization Scenarios:
Introduce Random Elements Of the Unusual
Sometimes it is easier under controlled circumstances and other times you will just happen upon something new and out of the ordinary. When you come upon something new, whether it’s a person, another animal, or even a strange object like a garbage dumpster, you want to encourage your dog to explore. Note I said encourage, not force. Reward tentative sniffing and small approaches with treats and praise, make your puppy feel good about stepping outside of his comfort level.
Socializing with People
If it’s a person you are interacting with and the puppy seems skittish or down right terrified, encourage the person to offer treats to your pup. If the puppy won’t approach the person on his own, have them toss the treats close to him and gradually shorten how far they toss so that your pup moves closer each time. Everything is gradual and nothing needs to be figured out on a given day. Maybe today he only goes within ten feet of the bearded man, tomorrow you’ll try again and he will feel more confident. Keep in mind that it is a step-by-step process. It’s all about boosting his confidence and comfort level.
Socializing with Other Dogs and Other Pets
It is important to start bringing your puppy around other pets as soon as he has received his full round of puppy vaccinations. This usually occurs around 4 months. Take Fluffy to the dog park or arrange a puppy play date. He may be scared of other animals at first and try to hide behind you or under a nearby bench. Do not worry or panic, your puppy will pick up on your anxiety and act more fearful. Instead, let the other dogs sniff around and soon your puppy will come out to play. The more comfortable he gets with other dogs and pets the easier the socialization process will be. It’s not always a great idea to bring treats into the dog park, but if you have them keep rewarding your pup when he ventures out to sniff a butt or wrestle with Fido.
Remember Young Jedi
Never force your dog to confront his fear no matter how irrational it may seem. He doesn’t laugh at the fact you’re scared of spiders, so don’t laugh at his fear of the dumpster, Christmas tree or vacuum. Instead, explore together and discover the positive things in the world and make it a less scary place for the both of you. Good luck and stay social! Share this article on FB or drop us a comment below.
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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!