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The best puppy socialization tips will tell you that it needs to happen in the early stages of their little lives. Have you ever had a dog that didn’t like people in hats? How about one that peed and ran away whenever someone ran a vacuum cleaner? These, and other fearful behaviours, may be a sign of poor puppy socialisation.

Like humans, dogs are most comfortable around things and situations they were exposed to while they were growing up. The more you expose them as puppies, the more confident they’ll be as adults.

Here are five puppy socialization tips to get you started.

When to Socialize Your Puppy

The best time to socialize your puppy is when they’re between eight and sixteen weeks old. This is the time when their brains are most receptive to learning. If they have good, healthy experiences with people, places, and things, they’ll be comfortable with those things for the rest of their lives.

Since your puppy won’t have all their vaccinations at this age, you’ll want to be careful about exposing them to strange dogs. The safest place for socialisation is a puppy class or ‘doggy daycare’, where all dogs are required to be disease-free and have up-to-date vaccinations. Dog parks and other public locations should be avoided until your puppy has all their shots. If you’re not sure about a particular location, talk to your vet.

Puppy Socialisation Tips for People

Besides getting used to other dogs, you’ll also want your puppy to be comfortable around a wide variety of people. The best place to do this is at home, where your puppy feels safest. Invite friends who are women, men, men with beards, people in wheelchairs, and people of different races.

It’s also a good idea to get your puppy used to different types of clothing. Have some of your friends wear hats, jackets, hoodies, and gloves, and you’ll be well on the way to having a well-socialised puppy.

Socialization with Other Species

This can be easy if you have a cat in the house, or a bird, or other common pets. If not, you may want to schedule a playdate with a friend’s cat – provided the cat approves. This can prevent problems later down the line. If your next-door neighbor buys a cat, for example, you don’t want your dog barking every time they see it.

Man-Made Sounds and Objects

If you want to have an adult dog that’s not afraid of the dreaded vacuum cleaner, you’ll need to get them used to it as a puppy. Vacuum frequently and give your puppy a treat afterward. The same goes for large objects like trash cans – and the loud crash they make when they get knocked over.

Getting Your Puppy Used to Different Surfaces

The last thing you want is a dog who won’t go outside when it’s raining. Get them used to dry surfaces, wet surfaces, grass, concrete, metal, as well as cold and ice, if that’s common in your area. If you happen to be in a drought, a kiddie pool with half an inch of water in it will teach them that water is nothing to be afraid of.

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