Socializing Your Puppy: Dos and Don’ts

Socializing your puppy at a young age will help him/her learn new things quicker.

Helping your puppy through this process will make him/her feel at ease with others and the environment. So it’s best you watch out for your puppy.

Pay attention to his/her feelings and actions – anxious, scared, or having fun. During this time, your puppy will experience a lot of things for the first time.

Below we’ve listed some tips in puppy training and socialization.

If you do it right, you’ll help your puppy grow up to be confident and outgoing. If it’s done wrong, you can inadvertently create a frightened, aggressive puppy.

A critical time for your puppy’s learning is from birth to 16 weeks of age. During this time, puppies can absorb a great deal of information, but they are also very vulnerable to bad experiences.

Protecting your puppy’s health

…Do not let your puppy walk in public places. This means that you should not let your puppy walk in the neighborhood or in public parks until she has had all her shots. If you must take your puppy to these places, carry her. Of course, this will be easier with a Maltese puppy than it will be with an English Mastiff, but it’s up to you to keep your puppy safe. The need to keep your puppy safe from disease can compete with the need to socialize her. If the ideal window for socialization is up to 16 weeks, and your puppy will not complete her shot series before then, how can you expose her to the world? Here’s how to do it safely:

  • Invite friends and family to your house.
    If your puppy can’t get out, bring the people in! Ask them to remove their shoes before coming into your home just in case they’ve stepped in something that can cause your puppy harm.
  • Invite safe, friendly dogs to your home.
    If you have friends who have suitable dogs for your puppy to meet, invite them to come play at your place.
  • Only visit safe houses.
    If you have friends who have a suitable, healthy dog who would play well with your puppy, visit their homes. This is safer than letting your puppy walk in a public park or in a neighborhood where you don’t know the dogs who have been there. Be sure to carry your puppy from the car into your friend’s home.
  • Do not let your puppy run up to dogs you don’t know, especially at the veterinarian’s office.
    Dogs who visit the veterinarian may be sick. If you let your puppy greet them, you could be exposing her to a contagious disease. Carry your young puppy into the veterinarian’s office, and keep her in your lap (or in her crate) until her immune system is protected.

Puppy Socialization with People

  • Pick different people.
    Puppies should be exposed to people of different genders, different ethnicities, different ages, different shapes and sizes. The more variety you introduce, the quicker she will learn that variety is the spice of life!
  • Pick the right people.
    Make sure that everyone you choose to interact with your puppy knows how to do so in a positive manner. If children cannot hold or pet your puppy correctly, they should not interact with her. If an adult will be rough with your puppy, he should not interact with her. Remember, a negative experience during this critical time can make your puppy afraid.

Socialization: What Not to Do

All socialization is not good socialization. Bad experiences at an early age can make negative impressions for years to come.
…If your puppy is not enjoying herself, learn to recognize her signs of stress to avoid causing emotional harm:

  • cowering or clinging
  • ears down and back
  • lip licking
  • sleeping (all young puppies take frequent naps, but if you find your puppy sleeping a lot when you have her out or at a busy event, she may actually be shutting down)
  • tail tucking
  • turning the head or body away from people who approach
  • yawning

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