Puppy socialization is a very important part of a puppy’s first steps in life. Proper socialization can help eliminate behavior problems in the future and help develop a better bond between the puppy and your family. Socialization is the learning process that puppies go through to become accustomed to various things in their surroundings such as: people, other animals, different environments, etc. Be careful not to introduce your puppy to other dogs until they have been properly vaccinated. Your veterinarian will let you know when your puppy is ready to be around other dogs.
By exposing puppies to different situations in a positive or neutral way (before they can develop a fear of these things!), owners can reduce the possibility of future behavioral problems. The critical time to socialize a puppy is during the first 3-4 months of its life. If we are able to create less future behavioral problems with puppies, then we will hopefully see fewer dogs surrendered at the local shelters.
Attending a puppy training class led by a professional trainer is a great way for you and your puppy to learn together. The goal of socialization is to expose your puppy to as many different things as possible without overwhelming them. We want the puppy’s experiences to create positive memories for them.
- Familiarize your puppy with touch. Whenever possible, you should touch your puppy’s ears, mouth, paws and body. This will make it easier (for you and the veterinary team) to clean ears, brush teeth, trim nails and examine them in the future.
- Introduce your puppy to people of all different ages, sexes, heights and races. Once your puppy seems comfortable, allow other people to touch your puppy’s ears, mouth, paws and body. This will make your puppy more comfortable in the future when being handled by others at the daycare, groomers or veterinary hospital.
- Once your puppy is properly vaccinated, they can then be socialized around other animals. Be sure to introduce them to many different dogs in various public areas. You don’t want to do this too soon and expose your puppy to an infectious disease when their immune system is still developing.