Puppies are born to be very gregarious and able to get along well with other species. But they are also, on the other hand, territorial animals, both of the home and the family. Therefore, at a very early age, a puppy should be taught how to behave in a right manner towards people and other dogs in any case so it would grow more and more sociable in the future.
If your pup is well socialized, a strange dog on the road or a new guest won’t bother your four-legged friend at all! Moreover, socializing your pup is a process by which your buddy learns how to fit in the world around it, but at the same time he finds a way to grow happy and well-balanced. Soon, puppies will thrive on life’s new experiences and enjoy an active social life with all around them.
PUPPY SOCIALIZATION PERIOD
It’s not until the week eighth should you separate a puppy from their siblings. Because most puppies have adequate opportunity to socialize with their dam and littermates during their first few weeks. A responsible breeder will always show you a litter of pups with mum proving among other things that the puppy’s socialization has begun.
From the week ninth, the litter which have developed all senses and triggered curiosity may be brought to new homes. The new owners now should be in charge of the rest of puppy socialization process. When a puppy reaches sixteen weeks old, it will finish experiencing puppy socialization period.
PREPARATION TO SOCIALIZING A PUPPY
The world including a myriad of living and non-living things is way too big for a puppy. Thus, it is important to think beforehand about what you are going to expose to your little pooch first. The puppy can get accustomed to a thing by frequently experiencing it with the help of all senses fully developed.
You may think that if your pup gets along well with your children at home, then it will be fine with any other kids. It’s totally wrong! Even when the pup was exposed to kids before, children playing in a park will bring a whole new experience for your puppy. Unknown children and unfamiliar environment with strange sounds may easily confuse the little dog. Therefore, your puppy will need to be socialized with various species, locations and sounds in different contexts as frequently as possible.
Wherever you go with your puppy, there are bound to be new experiences. Brand new sounds, sights, species and surfaces are waiting for him. There are some of these to which your pup is already habituated, but some other things your pup encounter occasionally or even rarely. Give your pup more chances to interact with things to which he has not been accustomed yet.
Sounds – Our world is full of sounds from fire engines, ambulances, reversing trucks, birdsong, loud bangs, music, fireworks, etc. Throughout its life, a dog has to experience many noises from various sources inevitably. When it is a puppy, you can download all these sounds and more from the internet; then play them on a regular basis for your puppy. So don’t hesitate to turn on the television or radio and also your washing machine, vacuum cleaner or any other gadget that makes noise. This will help your pooch get used to common noises that are part and parcel of everyday living.
Surfaces – whilst carpet, hard flooring, concrete and grass will be your dog’s favorite places, others like cattle grids, wood chip, gravel, sand, leaf covered paths and rocky areas probably seem to be not. Many dog owners have to make a detour to avoid unpleasant terrain that their dogs just will not walk on or through. This can be solved by taking your puppy to these places as regularly as possible.
People – Your puppy is going to grow up in a world full of people and each person will be different in some way to them. People can be wheelchair users, cyclists, skateboarders, walkers, runners, men with beards, women wearing hats, different races, children, the elderly, etc. Introduce your puppy to all of them and walk him in public places of a big chunk of society.
Animals – It’s inevitable that your puppy will come across other puppies, dogs or local animals like cats and birds. The sooner the pup is exposed to an animal, the more it is likely to not consider that animal as prey when it grows up. For example, if your dog lives with a cat since its childhood, they will tend to live together peacefully. Besides, other species such as rabbits, sheep, horses, cows and fish are often seen in the countryside, not the city. Thus, take your puppy to wherever you can to let it be more sociable with unfamiliar animals.
NOTES FOR MEETING PEOPLE & OTHER DOGS
It’s worth remembering to keep your patience with your pup in any case. Especially when you have a new guest with unusual appearance, let your pup shy away if he wants to be left alone. Don’t try to lure him out by food because he is already in his comfort zone.
Bringing your pup to public places will help it with socialization. Normally people won’t refuse to get acquainted with a dog, especially with a cute bundle of fur like your puppy. Try to approach different kinds of people so your puppy will not be startled when suddenly confronted with these later on.
When it comes to other dogs, always try to introduce dogs on neutral ground.
It’s better to let your pup cope with small groups of dogs first, then walk it on leash to encounter larger one at the park or canine health center. Needless to say that dogs can be territorial so any approach to other dogs in the yards or houses may lead to aggressive behaviors. Therefore, first meetings with others should always on leash. Ask the other dog owners if you and your little pup can get closer. During the encounter, keep the leash loose so your pup will either calmly greet its new friend or easily retreat if he feels insecure. When allowing dogs to play together, make sure to keep an eye on them and be ready to intervene if there is any sign of aggression. Besides, for more safety, you can enroll your puppy in a socialization or behavioral class. Classes like these are an ideal place for both your puppy and you to make new friends. The trainers there will give professional advice on how to socialize a puppy and help you with any issues you may have.
It is also worth noting that just like humans, dogs will not necessarily get along with every dog they meet. Thus, don’t force your little pooch to get closer to those it really hates.
HOW TO SOCIALIZE A PUPPY
Firstly and most importantly, only when your pup is under constant supervision should you introduce it to new different situations or environments. As a canine owner, you are in charge of being the pup’s real leader to ensure its safety at all times.
This helps your little puppy not to be frightened or feel vulnerable when coping with unfamiliar things.
If your pup shows panic or fear for someone or something, never force it to get closer to that and allow them to retreat from the situation. In that case, petting your pup or getting angry with him won’t help discourage shyness and anxiety but reinforce his negative behaviors. Instead, show your dog that you have control of the situation to calm him down. Be patient and wait for suitable time to reintroduce your puppy to that person or thing.
Besides, make sure your four-legged friend is current on all vaccines including parvo before exposing him to other dogs or places with high infection risk. Now he is ready to go with you to everywhere. There are so many places for your dog but you hardly think about. They are pet stores, shopping malls (as long as allowed), cafe, pub gardens, gas stations, car wash, farms, police stations, building sites etc.
Moreover, always reward your puppy for its good social behavior by giving it some good treats. Your buddy deserves a delicious treat if he successfully interact with somebody or something without negative reaction.
Always give your little pooch clear signals or messages so he behaves properly. It’s crucial to make it understand that you enjoy encountering new things and he should also enjoy it.
Featured image source : Jennifer Yaniz