Puppy socialization is often the topic of discussion for dog owners. Everyone who gets a puppy will at some point hear about this concept of socializing their dog. However, do they really know what this entails? I will break down socializing into an age range. To keep it simple I’ll only talk about puppy socializing. The time to start is AS SOON AS YOU GET YOUR PUPPY!
I consider a dog to be a puppy up to 6 months of age, but for the purpose of socialization I will expand that age range up to a year old. Keep in mind that most of dog’s socializing is permanent before 6 months of age. You’re feeling great now that you researched your breeder and bought a puppy. You’ve even gone the extra mile to make sure your home is set up accordingly, your crate is in a good place, you have a professional dog trainer ready to help, and you have a potty management plan. Now what?
Ask yourself this question, what does puppy socialization mean to you? List everything you can think of or heard in reference to same. Basic idea of puppy socialization is to get your dog exposure to as many places, people, smells, bells, and even animals as you can possibly handle. The breeder or rescue you got your puppy from hopefully informed you of the importance of socializing your puppy, even if it was only a basic idea.
Puppies are intuitive and curious by nature. From 8 weeks of age to 1 year of age you should be taking your puppy with you every chance you get. Taking them to work is not what I mean here, I’m talking about that short ride to the convenience store or hardware store. Even going to get your morning cup of coffee is a great time to bring them. This is where trust and bonding with your puppy begins.
When you arrive to a store for your coffee, we’ll use Starbucks in this example, park in front close to the main door. After you get your coffee, sit in the car with your puppy next to you or on your lap. Crack open your windows a couple inches to allow in some sound and smells. Welcome to puppy socialization. This is a great environment for your puppy because it gives them a safe place to build their confidence.
If you notice that your puppy is barking or growling at new people then you should consider getting out of the vehicle and introducing your puppy to the things he or she is not sure about. IT IS IMPORTANT NOT TO MOVE OR RUN AWAY FROM THE THINGS THEY FEAR! ESPECIALLY AT THIS AGE!!! Instead, this is your opportunity to expose your dog to their concerns IN A POSITIVE MANNER (Try food, Praise, Fun, etc).