You were just planning to stop by the adoption booth to look at the puppies. Just to look. Before you know it, you’re bringing home a pint-sized rescue puppy home with you. You might want to keep your adorable little ball of fur to yourself forever but remember, socializing them during this critical time is important in ensuring they grow up to be a well-mannered, well-behaved and socially developed pup. A well socialized puppy will eventually make a great companion dog because it will not easily show aggression towards other humans or dogs meaning you can bring him places without worrying about his behavior. An unsocialized dog can quickly become a liability because their behavior is unpredictable and they can’t be trusted. Read on for great ways to begin and maintain the socialization process and remember, go slow.
I. Socializing with humans
- Invite friends over to your house to visit your pup. Let your puppy meet a variety of people: men, women, children, & elderly of different heights and ethnic backgrounds.
- Touch your puppy all over and encourage other people to do the same. A puppy should get used to being touched even in sensitive areas such as their paws, teeth and ears. This prepares them for trips to the vet, groomer and trainer.
-Carry your pup to shopping centers, parks, schools, playgrounds and other venues where there are a lot of people and activity. This will help your dog become desensitized to different levels of noise and commotion.
- Take your dog along with you on car trips allowing him to watch the world through the window.
- To a puppy, objects that humans use can seem frightening and dangerous. Help them get used to this by exposing your puppy to umbrellas, bags, boxes, dish-washers, vacuums and even stairs. Introduce everything and anything you want your puppy to be comfortable around.
- Introduce your puppy to different sounds such as hair blow dryers, boiling water and toilets flushing. The last thing you want is a dog that’s paranoid of household appliances. Exposing them to your puppy early is a great way to help familiarize him with his surroundings.
II. Socializing with other dogs
-Puppy socialization begins with his mother, she massages the newborn with her tongue to control his elimination. Also, within the litter, brothers and sisters teach each other many aspects of being a dog including the language of dominance and submission.
- Expose your dog to other puppies by enrolling in a puppy kindergarten. Make sure all puppies have their shots, if they don’t, let the pups meet but not play together too closely.
- Introducing your dog to other dogs:
- In a neutral location such as the local dog park, keep the two leashed dogs approximately 10 feet apart.
- Have one of the dogs sit and have the other dog walk closer to sniff him. Reverse roles.
- In the heal position, walk past the other dog and his owner. Let the dogs see each other but make sure they are separated by your bodies.
- Bring the dogs together and let them take turns sniffing each other. If one dog is too hyper active, move him away and wait till he works off some of that energy before trying again. An excited dog can accidentally hurt your little puppy because of his exuberance.
III. Socializing “DON’TS”
- DON’T rush your puppy, let him take his time. If they seem overwhelmed, just back off and take him out of the situation for a while.
- DON’T forget to let your puppy take breaks. Puppies tire fairly quickly and overexerting them can leave them not wanting to socialize in the future
- DON’T reward fearful behavior. When your puppy seems nervous or scared around certain noises or people, don’t calm them down speaking to them in a soothing voice. You may unintentionally be rewarding and thus enforcing this behavior. It’s normal for a puppy to show signs of anxiety and apprehension when confronted with a new situation.
- DON’T WAIT. The first 12 weeks of your puppy’s life is a huge opportunity. If you miss socializing within this window, you may risk difficult behavioral problems in the future.
Make sure that your puppy always meets humans and dogs in a pleasant and non-threatening environment, this will ensure that your puppy doesn’t have any bad associations with being social. When it comes to exposing your dog to other dogs and humans, the earlier you start the better. You can prevent some weird behavior by starting socialization before the puppy is eight months old. Of course, make sure your dog has all the necessary shots before agreeing to too many playdates.