For a puppy, every sight and sound is a brand new adventure, and every fellow dog is a potential new friend. To make sure your furry friend is ready for the big wide world, here are six handy hints to help you socialize your puppy.
Get Started Early
When it comes to socialization, it’s best to get started right away. Your puppy will have a strong ability to get used to new experiences up to the age of around sixteen weeks, and the sweet-spot for this powerful curiosity is between three and twelve weeks old. Of course, your puppy will only be small to start with, so make sure to keep walks to around five minutes per month of age, and only twice a day, depending on the breed. This way you’ll have plenty of time for meeting new friends without exhausting your canine companion.
Meet the Community
Walks are a fantastic way to let your puppy get to know a familiar collection of sights and sounds, from loud cars to barking dogs and friendly passers-by. Another great way to do this is to take your puppy to dog-training school or puppy classes. These classes are not only a convenient way to teach your dog new tricks and obedience skills, but also help with forming bonds and learning social cues through regularly seeing other puppy-friends and interacting with their owners.
Shapes and Sizes
Dogs, like people, can come in all shapes and sizes, and so it’s important to try and meet a wide range of both on your adventures. This way your puppy will be able to handle playful, energetic dogs just as well as shy or impatient ones. It’s also a good idea to introduce your puppy to people with different physical features and of different ages. Meeting children is especially important, though make sure to only introduce your puppy if you are sure it’s okay first, and do so slowly to avoid over-excitement or distress.
Find a Buddy
If you know somebody with a dog that’s already well socialized and perhaps a little older than your own, it’s a good idea to set up regular walks or playdates with them so that your puppy can learn by example. Having a more experienced companion along means that your puppy can watch and learn, building its recall skills, off-lead awareness, and understanding of social cues that will help to keep it safe from any hazards or unfriendly dogs.
Grooming Is Good
Another fantastic way for your puppy to meet different breeds of dogs in a safe and controlled environment is to take them to the groomers regularly. Of course, not all breeds will attend as often as others, but the benefit of this is that your puppy will meet a constant rotation of new friends. They’ll also get used to being handled by strangers who are well-trained to do so, and last but not least, they’ll get a great haircut too!
Don’t Force I
It’s important to recognize that not all dogs will learn to love other dogs. My husband (and co-owner) hired me in 2014 to train his Shiba Inu, Duke, who was showing signs of aggression towards dogs and people. Steve brought Duke home at 8 weeks old and began socializing him with many dogs, big and small, as well as people on day one. But when Duke was around 5 months old, he started showing signs of aggression, so Steve hired me. Duke is now great with people, but still doesn’t love every dog he meets, and that’s okay! But it is important that they learn how to co-exist with other dogs.
Socializing a new puppy can be a tricky job, but with the tips on this list you can turn even this challenge into an enjoyable adventure.