Socialization is the developmental process whereby puppies familiarize themselves with their constantly changing surroundings. It is how they work out what is safe and good as opposed to what is dangerous and not so good.
Anything you want your puppy to cheerfully accept as an adult—people of all kinds, animals, things, and situations—you must introduce them to often and in a positive manner in the first six months of his life. Then you have to make sure they stay comfortable with all these new things.
Under-socialized dogs are at much greater risk of developing all sorts of behavioral problems stemming from fear—aggression and reactivity towards certain people and animals, for example.
DO Focus on the essentials. Take your puppy to experience a variety of places, people, dogs and situations they are likely to encounter in their life with you.
DO Go at your puppy’s pace. Consult your Blue Line K-9 trainer about what’s right for your particular puppy. If your puppy is rushed into too many new experiences at one time, it could do more harm than good. Think quality experiences over quantity.
DO Socialize your puppy individually. Puppies that go everywhere with older, wiser canine housemates don’t develop the ability to handle things well on their own. Individualize your puppy’s experience. Go for walks with just your puppy and not the whole dog pack. By giving your puppy their own experiences and quality time, they learn their skills on their own and are not solely dependent on other dogs in the home.
DO Learn to read your puppy. Practice reading your puppy’s body language, particularly signs of stress. It’s easier than you think and will help you a great deal. Use every opportunity. The way to create a ‘Two Paws Up’ reaction to as many new experiences as possible is by linking them with food or play, so always bring your Socialization Toolkit with you.
DO Be safe and sensible. Give your puppy the best possible learning experiences while protecting them from harm. Read and follow our Safety Standards.
DON’T Get careless. Stay away from places that could damage your puppy’s health or behavior like the dog park or areas frequented by unfamiliar dogs until they are prepared to handle them. (Puppies should be at least six months old, for example, before they go to the dog park).
DON’T Befriend every dog you meet. Don’t let your puppy interact with every dog
he comes across—not all dogs are friendly or healthy.
DON’T Force the issue. Never force your puppy to face something that scares them or makes them react aggressively. Instead, remove them from the situation and slowly work on building his confidence.
DON’T Punish your puppy. Punishing your puppy for fearful or aggressive behavior will only make things worse. Work with your Blue Line K-9 trainer to change your puppy’s reaction in a positive, gentle way.
DON’T Transfer stress. Acting nervous when your puppy is having a fearful reaction may increase his fear. Remain calm and make them feel better by engaging them in play or offering some of their favorite treats.
Training Tip: Your Socialization Toolkit should include:
- Socialization Guideline
- Two types of treats
- Favorite Toy
- Poop bags
- A positive attitude
Want to learn more about socializing your puppy? Click here to learn more and to find out how to consult with one of our Best Friends Fur Ever trainers!