Puppies and most young animals are naturally made to get used to their everyday surroundings and to their environment until they reach a certain age. When they reach that “sensitive” age they tend to become a lot more suspicious of things they are not familiar with, and of the things they haven’t yet experienced. Puppy Socialization allows a puppy to get comfortable with everyday sights, smells, sounds, people and animals that will form a crucial part of its life. Through this highly effective learning process, your puppy learns to react with a healthy amount of caution to things that might be a potential threat or danger, instead of running and hiding whenever he is exposed to something new or different.
What Is Puppy Socialization?
The learning process through which a puppy becomes accustomed to being near various animals, people, and environments is defined as puppy socialization. This process involves exposing puppies to different stimuli in a positive manner to prevent the puppy from developing a fear of the unknown. Proper socialization can help eliminate some behavior problems in the future and helps to develop proper bonding between the pup and his family members. During the first 3 to 4 months of a puppies life, it is critical to introduce socialization to prevent a puppy from inheriting behavior problems such as aggression. This website provides more information on dog aggression and how to (stop) aggressive puppy biting.
Why Is Puppy Socialization Important?
Behavior related problems remain the number one reason behind owners renouncing their pets to animal shelters. Puppy Socialization is effective for making puppies more tolerant of changes in their environments. Proper socialization helps to prevent common behavior problems in the future. Under socialized dogs are known to be fearful, aggressive and inflexible, they respond to change with fear and seem brittle when introduced to new environments.
Puppy Training Classes/ Kindergarten.
It is important for puppy owners to consider puppy training classes for their pups as this gives the puppy an opportunity for socializing with other puppies, with children and adults. Some Veterinary clinics, dog training facilities, and pet supply stores are known to offer puppy training classes. Vaccination and deworming of puppies are mandatory before the puppy can attend the training course. This is to ensure that the puppies aren’t exposed to diseases and parasites while their immune system is in its early stages of development.
Other Socialization Methods.
The main purpose of socialization is to expose your puppy to different people, animals, and environments in a safe manner that will not overwhelm your pet. You can begin by familiarizing your puppy with touch, start with a light touch to its ears, paws, mouth, and body. Once your puppy is familiar with touch it will be easier for you to introduce grooming to your pup and to give it medication without any resistance.
Introduce your puppy to different people of different ages, genders, and ethnicities at a time. Start with a few family members and slowly integrate one stranger at a time. If your puppy is open to it, allow other people to touch its ears, paws, and body. This should make the puppy more comfortable with being handled by others, and it should make your next visit to the vet easier.
Avoid Negative Interactions!
Not all socialization Is good socialization. Bad experiences and harmful exposure at an early age can leave lasting, negative impressions on your pup for years to come. There are certain situations that can overwhelm your puppy in the worst way. Look for the signs, if your puppy is open to new environments and learning about different things you will see it in its body language. Bright eyes, a wagging tail, and actively seeking interaction are some good signals that your pup is enjoying himself. If your puppy is not enjoying himself, don’t try to force him into socializing, here are some signs to look out for:
- Ears are down and hanging low
- Cowering or clinging
- Tail tucking
- Turning the head or body away from people
Safe Methods For Socializing A Puppy That Is Not Fully Vaccinated.
- Take your puppy on a car ride through different neighborhoods and drive-thrus, where he will be exposed to new smells and different animals.
- Arrange play sessions with other puppies and adult dogs that are vaccinated, healthy and friendly.
- For smaller puppies you can carry, take a walk or carry them around town, allowing for a few strangers to pet him and to give him treats. Always be careful not to overwhelm the pup with too many strangers at a time.
- Introduce your puppy to different objects and their sounds. To avoid your puppy barking at garbage cans and cyclists or even sirens try incorporating these sounds in their everyday life to avoid overwhelming them with everyday objects they might be fearful of. Allow objects to fall and to move around them, reward them with treats if and when they respond calmly.
- Practice handling exercises with your puppy, pull gently on its tail, restrain him gently and hold its feet to clip his nails. These exercises will better prepare your pup for visits to the vet, and playtime that involves children.
Once your puppy has been vaccinated, taking it to the park or any other public area will help to expose your puppy to other puppies and to different environments. This exposure to the outdoors will help to familiarise your puppy with different sights, smells and sounds. Provide treats and praise to your puppy to create a positive experience with new pets, people and environments. Socializing your puppy is the key to ensuring that you will have a confident, well adjusted and happy dog for life.