Tips and Tricks Tuesday: Socializing Your Puppy

Socializing your Puppy is an incredibly important aspect of their training.  However, if done incorrectly, it can be counterproductive.  First always consider your dog’s health and that the places you visit are appropriate based on where the dog currently is with their shots.  Take your puppy to lots of different places, environments and situations.  Take him to different stores, the vet waiting room, to friend’s homes, to open spaces, etc.  Let him experience many surfaces underfoot, from grass to concrete to leaves to metal gratings.  Teach him to uses stairs and to get in and out of your car.

Variety of People: Make sure your puppy has interactions with a wide variety of people.  Be sure to introduce your dog to both men and women.  Make a point of being multicultural in your introductions.  Some dogs are suspicious of certain physical features – a beard, hats, dark sunglasses, a walking cane or wheel chair – try to introduce your dog to as many of these potentially different characteristics as you can.

Other Animals: The same goes for animals.  A puppy who grows up knowing cats is less likely to treat them as prey when he grows up. As for other dogs, screen them! Your puppy should meet dogs and puppies who you know for a fact are friendly and healthy. A well-run puppy manners class, play group or daycare facility are great options for this. Avoid even well-managed dog parks until vaccinations are complete.

Sounds: Many dogs are afraid of unfamiliar sounds. Make sure your pup hears police sirens, fire trucks, trucks backing up, lawn mowers, etc.  Introduce them to household noises, pots and pans, phones ringing, alarms and sharp noise.  You may consider downloading clips for less common noises and playing them on your phone or computer.

Is your puppy being shy?:  Say you’re introducing your puppy to a friend with dark glasses and a beard, and your puppy exhibits behavior showing they are uncomfortable and shying away. Take a deep breath, relax, and let your puppy retreat. Ask your friend to sit down and ignore the puppy. Let your pup approach at his own pace, while your friend pays him no mind.  Praise your puppy softly and warmly when he explores. If he relaxes completely near your friend, they can offer him a treat.

Follow the same pattern for anything or anyone your puppy doesn’t take in stride: let him retreat to a distance where he feels safe, then venture forward in his own good time. Praise his bravery but do not lure.

Come back next week to read about socializing a more mature dog!!