How to Socialize Your Puppy



Perhaps the most important thing you can do for your new puppy is socialize, socialize, socialize!  It is something that many people don’t even think of yet it should be foremost in their minds when they decide to bring a new puppy into their household.  Having a few people come to your house, having the puppy around resident dogs and a trip here and there to the local pet store, simply doesn’t cut it.  There are many ways to ensure that your puppy gets adequately socialized – all it takes is a modicum of effort on the part of dog owners everywhere!

Always remember that good socialization is a positive experience for the puppy.  Always.  It is up to us to make sure that every new experience is a positive one.  To this end we must make every effort to socialize correctly.

In order to make sure that your puppy does not find himself in an uncomfortable or scary situation, its important to make sure that the puppy isn’t forced into anything.  Make sure he has an escape route and respect his trepidation when the situation becomes too much.  Make sure, if you are using food, that you are actually making strides forward and not just using the pup’s desire for treats to outweigh his nervousness at the situation while not actually making him comfortable at all.  Learn to read your dog’s signals – curiosity is good, extreme reluctance and fear probably means you need to take a few steps back or go about things in a different manner.  Always take your time and base your next step on your puppy’s reaction to initial steps.  There is no shame in ending a socialization session early, so it is important to not expect too much too soon.  This process should be well thought out, and above all, POSITIVE.

Avoid taking your puppy to places where he will be overwhelmed and unable to escape that which bothers him.  Many people bring a new puppy home and immediately expect that he will be fine no matter where they take him.  Inappropriate places include unsupervised dog parks with lots of dogs and large gatherings of human beings.  Neither place is useful in easing your puppy into anything.  Instead, they tend to be a noisy and overstimulating.  Neither is a great thing to make your new puppy endure.  There is a time and a place for such events – once your pup has a solid foundation and more confidence.  This will only happen if you take things step by step, making sure your pup has more fun than anything else.  Again, remember to make everything positive.

Make careful choices when you set out to socialize your puppy.  Perhaps a local crowded street fair isn’t appropriate BUT a walk through the middle of town on a regular day with a normal amount of traffic is a different story.  A public dog park can be filled with ill-trained dogs and ever worse trained owners who aren’t watching their dogs.  Instead, find a supervised play time at a local training facility or set up your own play date with the dogs of your friends.

For each inappropriate place or method that is available, there is a perfect place and a perfect way to socialize your puppy.  Our job is to find the one that is best.