Introducing your puppy to different places, people, situations and dogs is one of the best things you can ever do to him. Properly socialized puppies grow into calmer, confident and well adjusted dogs. Even if your puppy comes from dogs breeds that are known to be social and loving, he still needs to be socialized thoroughly to ensure that he has an all-round experience in dealing with different kinds of situations and people.
The initial 12 weeks of your puppy’s life are the most important for socialization. This is because they’re most open during this time to learn about their surroundings. They also easily adapt to new sounds, smells, sights, people, and animals. If you have no idea where to start, here are a few tips to help you socialize your puppy:
Perhaps you’re wondering what would happen if you don’t socialize your new puppy properly. Well, for starters such puppies are likely to grow up into fearful and shy dogs later in life. Instead of playing with their fellow dogs, they’ll be hiding behind their owners all the time because they fear anything new or unfamiliar to them i.e. people, places, and even other dogs.
Some under-socialized puppies may also grow into reactive and aggressive pets who bark at any moving thing. Others may be overexcited with new things including dogs, which may lead to frequent fights.
Note that within the first 12 weeks, your puppy hasn’t received all the vaccinations required, and therefore he’s likely to be vulnerable to various diseases. Because of this, you may want to consider enrolling your puppy into a socialization class instead of taking him to a dog park. Such classes are usually indoors and are very organized, which greatly reduces the risk of being exposed to harmful things and infections.
Secondly, since the puppy is still very young, the whole experience of meeting so many dogs at the park can be overwhelming to him. As if that’s not enough, you never know what other dogs might do to him within that minute when you’re distracted.
Socialize your young pet by introducing him to a wide variety of situations, people, places, sights, and dogs. Take him to places where he can interact with others safely such as your vet’s office, the gas station, and even your local pet store. However, not all dogs are naturally social and outgoing, therefore be sure to ask for permission from their owners before approaching them.
Having a doggie play date in your home is also another great way for socializing your little friend. You also get to catch up with your friends whom you haven’t seen in a while. So, consider arranging a meet and greet in your home regularly where your neighbors and friends come with their dogs. And if your friends can pick him up, talk to him gently and cuddle him a bit, that would be great. This way, he gets used to interacting and playing with other dogs as well as different people.
Overall, socializing puppies properly takes time, commitment, consistency, and patience, but it’s all worth it in the end. The way you socialize yours will shape how he interacts with the world around him in the future. So, take time to do it positively and properly to enable your puppy grow into a more confident and calmer dog.