How to Socialize Your Active Puppy
By Jodi Westrick
You've just adopted your adorable new puppy and you can't wait for everyone to meet him or her. But before you do, you may want to make sure your little one is properly socialized so he or she can interact with humans a dogs with ease. Here are a few tips for helping your pup socialize seamlessly with others.
The Best Age for Socializing Your Puppy
As puppies get older, it's more difficult to socialize them as they become extremely cautious of anything they haven't previously encountered. According to the ASPCA, the best age to socialize your puppy is between 3 and 12 weeks old because they are more accepting of new experiences. Trying to socialize your puppy after 12 weeks of age will be difficult and will only get more difficult as the puppy gets older.
The Importance of Socializing Your Puppy
Have you ever met a dog that was hesitant around new people or situations? Or perhaps was always excitable when venturing the new places? Or even acted out aggressively? Chances are it's because they were never properly socialized as a puppy. In order for your new addition to become a well-adjusted dog both now and later in life, proper socialization is key. Added bonuses? Your dog will be a safer, more relaxed and enjoyable pet - not only for you, but for any other dog or human it meets!
It's up to you to decide on the amount of socialization that's appropriate. Just keep in mind that the more experiences that your pup encounters, the more comfortable he will grow as an adult who is more likely to adjust to new and foreign experiences.
Socializing Your Puppy
To start, know that socializing your puppy is a big project. You'll need to be cognizant of the sites, sounds, people, places and a variety of other factors that your puppy will be exposed to throughout his life with you. If you live in a big city, you may want to get your puppy adjusted to the sounds of traffic - loud trucks, honking horns, police sirens - to the sounds of public transportation, loud groups of people and children and so forth. Keep in mind that it will likely be impossible to introduce your puppy to every sound he will ever encounter, but the more you introduce him to in that 3-to-12 week age period, the better he will adjust to new things over time.
Just keep in mind that making sure your pup comes encounter with the types of people, sounds, grooming, physical interactions and so forth that you would expect in his daily life, the easier it will be for him to socialize.
What You Need to Do for Your Puppy
First and foremost, make sure your puppy is comfortable in any situation you put him in. You don't want to overwhelm him. Be sure to keep an eye on how your puppy is reacting to the situations you put him in. There's nothing worse than trying to introduce your puppy to other puppies, only to find him hiding from the other animals out of fear. Adjust as necessary and keep trying until you and your puppy find your stride.
If you do find that your puppy seems frightened or scared during socialization, try to relieve him or make the experience more enjoyable. For example, if you're introducing him to other dogs at the park and he doesn't want to leave your side, try sitting further away from the action, which will allow your puppy to observe the situation, but at a more comfortable distance. Giving a treat whenever something loud or scary happens to show him that the place isn't so bad. Additionally, you can always try a quieter dog park or adjust the location as necessary.
If you're finding it difficult to socialize your puppy on your own, it's always beneficial to take your puppy to a "kindergarten" training class. Most pet stores offer these classes, which are a great way to introduce your puppy to other dogs. They encourage off-leash play, which helps teach your pup how to be gentle with other dogs, how to play without it becoming a harmful fight and how to get used to being handled by a variety of different people.
An added bonus? Most puppy classes also teach some obedience training, so your puppy will learn to be better behaved overall.
Socializing your puppy ensures that you'll have a well-adjusted pet that is able to adapt to a variety of situations as well as be an overall enjoyable pet.