Let’s start with the basics. Puppy socialization is not just hanging out with other dogs. It's a more complex phenomenon that includes the introduction of your dog to the world. Doggies learn to live surrounded by new noises, smells, creatures, objects. Going through socialization prepares your pup for future life in this world.
When is the socialization window for puppies ?
First 3 months of your fur baby’s life are the most important basis - period of socialization.
It’s time when the pup learns everything about the world around and how to live in it with comfort. It’s your job to make sure you do everything possible to make this journey the most pleasant for both of you.
Normally we take doggie home at the age of 2 months. Your breeder would start working on your fur child’s social skills. Surrounded by brothers and sisters the fluff learns how to be around other doggies.
Why is it important ?
Prevent fear. Anything new could be scary for your dog. Starting from new people to bird noise. We all want our dogs to live comfortable lives.
Become accustomed to the world around us. Noisy streets, rainy days, car trips, it is our daily life. For the puppy who only got a chance to be inside your house it’s a whole new experience.
Failure to socialize your doggie properly can lead to lots of behavior problems later in life. Aggression, bad manners, excessive barking, hyperactivity are among them.
How to socialize your puppy ?
- Make sure the process is positive for your fur baby! Use it’s favorite treat or toy to reinforce the desired behaviour. We NEVER punish the dog for anything. This experience will create trust between you two.
- Take baby steps. Some doggies are learning faster, some are more stubborn. They have different personalities and world perception. Do not rush if your fur baby is not ready for the next step.
- Involve your family. Start human interaction with a close circle of people. People you can trust. If you have kids in the family it is even better! You must explain to the child how to interact with the puppy. Make sure you supervise the playdate to prevent any unexpected problems.
- Go outside. Within these 3 months your dog needs to experience as many new things as possible and meet at least 100 people. When walking down the street encourage your furbaby to explore but be vigilant.
If people passing by want to pet your pup, encourage them and your fluff. Give the doggie treats for being calm or you can even offer people to feed your doggie.
- Puppy classes. This would be the perfect place to meet puppies your size and be able to socialize with them. As well as learn the most important commands you will need in daily life.
Introduce puppy to new experiences
Let’s talk about the most common pet enemy - the vacuum cleaner. The noise it produces can be scary. Start baby steps, ask somebody to turn it on in the other room for a short period of time. Meanwhile your job is to offer snacks and encourage calm puppy behavior. Next time, keep the noise for a longer time, then vacuum in the same room with the dog. When your pup is ready and shows no signs of fear you can make an official introduction.
If you have a back yard - great! Doggie has a chance to experience outdoors without being too overwhelmed. Next step would be to go outside, to the real world. For your first walks, choose a small, quiet street. When your puppy gets more comfortable, you can introduce your fur child to a busier road. Don’t forget to keep encouraging, giving belly rubs, treats, reminding how good of a boy/girl your doggie is!
Pay close attention to your puppy’s body language. Posture and ability to focus on you are the key factors you’re focusing on. If something doesn’t look right, it means your puppy is not ready yet. Make sure you do not force your fluff.
- Other dogs
Meet dogs you know that belong to your friend’s or family. You know how they behave, feel safe around, trust them with the new member of the family.
Look for matching sizes and personalities. We want doggies to enjoy each other's company. While everyone is safe, nobody feels neglected, offended or frightened.
First dog interaction should not be in confined space. It gives more freedom and puts less pressure.
Have leashes on. In case something goes wrong you need to be able to control the situation.
Dogs don't have to play. Walking together or training while pups are running around is great too. It teaches your pouch to respect other dogs. As well as training surrounded by the biggest destruction.
Doggie gets accustomed to a fluffy carpet or tiles in your house. When it is time to go outside pup might get overwhelmed with other sensations. Getting used to metal under the paws can be useful before visiting the vet. The table and scales will be less frightening. Think of what other possible places to walk on could be like grass, sand, pebbles, the more the better.
We all saw lots of videos of dogs who are not happy having baths or can’t do potty on wet grass. The reason is, they didn’t get over that fear of water. It is important to make this introduction fun and pleasant. Our goal is to go through puppy socialisation without developing any trauma.
Pay close attention towards what your puppy is more sensitive to. Some puppies are great with noises, but shy around other dogs. Every doggie is different. Make sure you work harder on those areas that need development.
Don’t forget that puppies get tired easily. 10-15 minutes outside filled with new exciting and/or scary things will make your doggie exhausted. Don’t worry, in a couple hours that energy will be back.
My puppy is not fully vaccinated
Usually doggies get their first shot of the vaccine around week 6 or 8. They need to get another 2 shots within 2-4 weeks apart. It is the time when vets recommend pups to stay indoors so as not to catch any disease.
It does not mean you can not start the process of socialization.
What can you do ?
- Invite somebody over to your place.
- Go visit your friends.
- Car rides. If you’re planning any trips with your dog it’s better to start practising early. Even if it’s not in your plans, might be handy for those vet visits.
- Your friends have a healthy happy pup? Invite the doggie for a play date!
- Start your walks within your backyard.
- Go to a safe place where you won’t meet stray dogs, ideally any dogs.
- Coffee with a friend at a cafe. Why not take your puppy along?