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A key part of training is to start puppy socialization straight away. The first three months of a canine’s life is crucial to their development. What fear they develop now may become ingrained in their behaviour, which can become difficult to change.
When socializing your pup, it is important to bring them into many situations, with a variety of animals, people, and sounds. As intuitive as it may feel, do not coddle your puppy when showing nervous behaviour.
Nervous Behaviour During Puppy Socialization
Examples may include:
- Raised fur
- Tail between the legs
- Baring teeth
- Body tension
Remember, your dog is not a child; if you comfort them when they show fear, what you’re actually doing is “rewarding” this behaviour. Save the vocal excitement, touch, and treats as a reward when your puppy shows positive body language, such as tail wagging, perking their ears, sitting nicely, and staying calm. When socializing, your pup may jump with excitement – although this is not a sign of fear, calm behaviour is key to training, as your adorable puppy will quickly grow into an adult dog.
Puppy Socialization With Children
When socializing with children, never allow them to leave your sight. Always supervise any interactions. This is important for the child’s safety and your puppy companion’s safety too! Puppies love children, but in the brain of your pup, a child is just another puppy. Not all children have been puppy “trained.” A pulled ear or a poked eye could mean a nip from a scared dog, who only meant to protect themselves.
Vaccinations Before Puppy Socialization
Keep your pup’s health and safety in mind: get all vaccinations and boosters prior to any outings where they may come in contact with other dogs. Be aware of surfaces where non-vaccinated dogs may have travelled or used as a toilet. It’s important to take any precautions regarding your pup’s health before introducing them to the great big world out there.
Puppy Socialization Tips
To train a wonderful dog that loves to be around everyone, and whom everyone loves to be around, here are a few ideas to make this easier for both of you:
- Take your puppy with you everywhere. Ask ahead and see if friends and family mind you stopping by with your pup.
- Introduce your puppy to other animals. It’s best to keep your pup on a leash until they learn to approach in a calm manner.
- Most pet stores are a great place to meet fellow dogs and dog lovers. Ask them if they offer socialization classes. A lot of the time, you can find puppy playgroups that cost next to nothing or are free!
- The dog park is a wonderful place for your pal to meet new dogs and people. Be sure to allow others to make physical contact with your pup while he or she is on a leash. While in your arms, this may give you a sense of comfort, but your pup needs to learn to say “Hi!” all by themselves!
- Enrol in obedience classes early to train a well-balanced dog, and involve other members of the family as well.
- If there are doggie daycare centres in your area, even one day a week can do wonders for your pup.
- And lastly, let your pup explore different floor textures, such as wood, grass, sand, and even water. Surfaces can become scary to a little pup when they have never experienced an odd feeling or strange object.
If you follow these tips on puppy socialization, you will end up with a calm and confidently social butterfly. Good luck, and stay safe!
Want more puppy socialization tips? Check out our other article HERE.