Adopted a new puppy? Curious about puppy socialization and the proper way to socialize your pup?
Perfect, because whether your a beginner or a pro in this article we cover everything you need to know about how to socialize a puppy so let’s dive in!
What we'll cover
What Is Puppy Socialization
Puppy socialization is about providing your puppy with positive experiences in a variety of new environments, people, dogs, new locations, and scenarios!
Puppy socialization is probably one of the most critical aspects of raising a young puppy!
The main reason you want to socialize your puppy is that the more socialized your puppy the fewer behavioral issues you will see as your puppy becomes an adult dog.
For instance, adult dogs who are not socialized as puppies have higher rates of anxiety, fear, insecurity and many times develop into aggression.
The simple reason for this is lack of proper puppy socialization!
When the puppy finally becomes an adult dog, the now-adult dog will not have sufficient past experiences as a puppy to fully understand certain aspects of the world we live in.
Critical Developmental Period
Puppies have a “critical developmental period” between the ages of 18 weeks and about 4 months.
Meaning that everything that occurs between this period is painting and molding your puppy’s overall view of the world.
Something important to understand is that whatever experiences your puppy has within the critical developmental period will carry on into that puppy’s adulthood if the experience was strong enough
How To Socialize
Now that we understand why socializing your puppy is so important we’ll now cover how to properly go about puppy socialization so that you develop a confident, sound pup!
Direct Vs Indirect Socialization
There are essentially two forms of puppy socialization direct and indirect both have their pros and cons but ultimately come down to balance.
Direct socialization is the first form of puppy socialization and is exactly what it sounds like! Direct socialization is when you socialize your puppy by allowing your pup to interact directly with what you’re trying to socialize your puppy to.
An example of direct puppy socialization is allowing your puppy to play with another dog, or allowing another person to pet your dog.
Indirect puppy socialization, on the other hand, is when you socialize your puppy by giving your puppy positive experiences around what you’re trying to socialize your puppy to.
An example would be rewarding your puppy around other dogs, rewarding your puppy around strangers and rewarding your puppy in new environments
Below we have provided some guidelines to follow when going about socializing your puppy to the world!
What To Do
Here a quick outline of what you should be doing when socializing your puppy to the world.
Take Baby Steps
With puppies its important to understand to go at your puppies pace and take baby steps before pushing our puppy too soon before being ready for a given challenge.
Pay attention to what your puppy pays attention to
Puppies are always learning so its important that you pay attention to whatever your puppy is paying attention to.
Since puppies are always learning you want to be able to manage what your puppy puts his time & energy into bringing us to our next point.
Use redirection to your advantage!
Now that your paying attention to what your puppy pays attention to the best thing to do is redirect your puppy off of anything that is “inappropriate.”
For instance, if your puppy attempts to chew furniture get your puppy’s attention and provide your puppy with an alternative object to chew on.
You can do the same if your puppy begins luging on the leash, but instead, use food to redirect your puppies attention off of what your pup was trying to lunge at.
Essentially telling your puppy “don’t that but this instead.”
Redirection is essentially what raising a puppy consist of, teaching your puppy what to put his time and energy into because remember puppies are essentially a clean slate and have no prior experience with the world we live in today it’s our job to teach our puppy what is and isn’t appropriate.
Make It Positive
Make every experience your puppy has positive!
You want to ensure that your puppy views the world as a positive place so that means bringing out those treats, toys and rewarding your pup.
Remember that whatever happens within the critical socialization period will ultimately mold your pup into the adult dog he will eventually become, so if you want an adult dog that is comfortable and confident be sure to make everything a positive experience when he’s a puppy!
Your Puppys Pace
Be sure to take baby steps and not push your puppy too far too soon before being ready for any challenges that arise.
Puppies are learning things for the first time so be sure to be patient with your pup!
What Not To Do
In this section, we will provide you with some guidelines of things to avoid and not to do when socializing your puppy to the world
Don’t force your puppy
If your puppy is feeling apprehensive about interacting with something don’t force your pup to interact with what’s making him insure.
Instead, use your dog treats to help your puppy work through whatever may be causing the apprehension in your puppy.
Don’t allow hard staring
As puppy owners, you want to interrupt your puppy from “hard staring at something.
The reason for this is that at a young age when puppies are first trying to get a grasp as to what things are, “hard starting” usually leads to a fixation.
This varies from puppy to puppy some puppies will just look at something new and it won’t be a big deal whereas other pups may get fixated and focused creating an obsession.
To combat this remember to redirect your puppy using treats away from what your puppy is fixated.
Doing this accomplishes 3 things:
1. Teaches your puppy that paying attention to you is rewarding
2. You are rewarding your pup around what he was fixated on ensuring he has a positive experience as well,
3 You begin teaching your puppy to leave something he is interested in alone and pay attention to you
Where To Socialize
Where to socialize your puppy is one of the most commonly asked and the simple answer is around as much new environment, people, dogs and scenarios you can!
Essentially you want to expose your puppy to everything you expect your pup to be around and comfortable with as an adult dog.
If you expect your adult dog to be comfortable around city life be sure to bring your puppy around big crowds if you expect your dog to be comfortable with the farm be sure to bring your puppy around farm animals.
It’s also important to note that the more experiences you provide your puppy with the better because when your pup is an adult dog the more memories of past experiences your adult dog has to fall back on the more confident and better your dog will be at handling situations!
Puppy Socialization is about the balance between everything you expose your puppy too!
Heres somethings to keep in mind when it comes to balance
Amount playtime with chill time to hangout
Playing is fun for both you and your pup but also have to teach your pup that there’s a time to remain calm as well
Playing with other dogs and playing with you
Having your puppy play with other dogs is a great form of exercise and socialization but too much can create an obsession with other dogs so balance playing with your puppy around other dogs as well.
Being with you and being alone
It’s great if you can be with your puppy all day every day but in the long run, it will develop a “dysfunctional dog” in that your pup won’t learn how to to be comfortable being alone and become too dependent on your presence so be sure to provide your puppy with some alone time every day even if it’s just ten minutes.
Neutral dogs and people are your friends
For new puppy owners remember that neutral dogs and people are best friends!
What do we mean by neutral dogs and people?
By neutral we are referring to dogs and people who can ignore your puppy because if you reward your pup it teaches your puppy to focus on you while being rewarded around these neutral dogs and people making your pup view people and sogs as positive!
Ultimately proper puppy Socialization is critical for the development of a mentally healthy and stable adult dog!
The guidelines provided in this guide will set you up to be in the best possible position to take the steps to properly socialize your puppy!
Receive your free dog training consultation and set your pup up for success!