Puppy Socialization – Start off Early
Early training and puppy socialization is key to creating a dog that is non-aggressive, happy, balanced and well-trained. A puppy that has not been socialized properly starting when it was born, or separated from its mother too early (before the age of 11 weeks), may be harder to train and may exhibit unwanted behaviors such as fear-based nipping, biting, aggression, constant whining, crying, or barking. In addition, many times the home that your puppy has come from may not have started socializing your puppy.
In any case, start puppy socialization as soon as you bring them home. Remember that puppies are first socialized by their mothers and, puppy socialization behaviors starts as soon as they are born. Puppies that are removed from their mother too early don’t get a chance to learn about socialization and correction from their mothers. Don’t put off socializing your puppy just because they may seem too young or because you feel training should come first.
Here are 3 tips to help socialize your puppy:
1. Puppy Socialization, Start off Right
Expose your puppy to different people and in different scenarios. This includes taking your puppy with you in the car, to work if possible, or when you meet other adults and don’t forget babies and children. Teach your puppy to walk on a leash or train your puppy to use a harness. Do whatever it takes to include your puppy as much as possible into your daily activities, even if you are tired or need to take a crate with you to the office or a friend’s house. Remember daily socialization of your puppy is key during the first year of your puppy’s life and actually, throughout.
Note: Do not take a young puppy to a dog park before they have completed their required shots. This may expose them to diseases before their immunity has developed.
If your puppy has had all of their shots, do take them to the dog park. Carefully watch and introduce them to smaller dogs when they are younger and progressively work toward larger dogs as they grow. Try to give them time to smell other puppies and dogs and feel comfortable enough to play with other dogs. (Don’t hold them while at the park, or reward them if they are skittish.) This kind of gradual introduction works best to allow your puppy time to adjust and to feel comfortable with meeting other (strange) puppies and dogs. Your puppy will learn how to respond to other dogs and strangers without being afraid or biting.
2. Don’t Forget – Puppy Socialization includes other Animals
If you have ever seen a puppy cringe in terror at the site of a hissing cat, then you know how important it is to train a puppy to be around a variety of different animals. Socializing a puppy to interact with a cat, bird, turtle, or other animals in your household (even farm animals) may not seem very important, however, your puppy will grow up more balanced and less likely to run away or exhibit fear when confronted or around your animals or other strange animals. Don’t put yourself in the position to have to send your puppy or dog to the shelter because your dog wants to use your cat as a chew toy, or chases your bird (endlessly) around your home.
3. Give Your Puppy the Opportunity to Explore and Try New Things
Puppies that are stimulated by toys, exploration, and different activities will ultimately exhibit better problem solving abilities and can cope better than puppies who are kept tied up or locked up in a crate. It absolutely is essential that a puppy get to go outside daily and get used to sounds and smells of being outdoors for extended periods of time. Puppies should be able to go outside and feel comfortable running and playing. They also should be introduced to the boundaries of their yard, right from the beginning. Otherwise, you may have a puppy that trashes your home because of lack of exercise or barks out of pure frustration. All puppies and dogs need mental stimulation and being in an apartment or house all the time will create a dog that can’t cope with new experiences or a change in settings.
How Important is Puppy Socialization?
Puppy socialization is very important. The sad fact is that puppies that are not properly socialized grow up to be dogs that are usually sent to shelters when they are older. They fail to interact well with their owners, develop frustrated anti-social behaviors, aggression. When they are sent to a shelter, they are not generally adoptable into homes that have other animals or children. They are usually euthanized because they have never been properly taught how to be around other dogs and people.
Puppies that lack socialization skills become more difficult to train as they become older and the anti-social behavior continues. Puppies that grow into adults without puppy socialization also usually need to have obedience training and even simple commands can become harder to teach. So, set your puppy up to succeed and socialize your puppy while it is still young.