Bringing a new puppy home is an incredibly exciting time for the entire family. Socializing your new fuzz ball is always a challenge every person faces, and it is a crucial component to ensuring your new pup is a well-balanced member of society as they grow up. Socialization is one of those buzz words that can mean something different to every person you ask.
For me, a well socialized dog is one that is environmentally sound (not fazed by entering new places), playful with dogs and people when appropriate, and is reliably obedient regardless of the situation. There are a few things you can do to ensure you set your puppy up on the right path to success!
First, I avoid dog parks. There are no regulations on who can/not enter these areas, and bad experiences can happen in a flash. I encourage people to participate in puppy socials and play groups organized by professionals to help build dog-dog socialiability in puppies.
From about six to 16 weeks, puppies are absolute sponges. Even though your puppy may not be able to walk around due to not finishing their vaccinations, carry your dog around and expose them to as many new environments as possible. The more things they can absorb, the better! When out and about, always micromanage new experiences to try to keep everything as positive as possible. Carry treats so you can always reward them during new interactions.
“Carry treats so you can always reward them during new interactions.”
Handle your puppy, and handle them a lot! Get them comfortable with every part of their body being touched. Encourage all types of people to handle your dog as well – puppy parties, in your home for example, are a great way to socialize your dog in a controlled environment. And who doesn’t love some puppy snuggles with some appetizers?!
There are also many checklists online that recommend various things to expose the puppy to as a great reference for owners. Even with all the work a puppy can be, make sure to enjoy your puppy and enjoy watching them grow and learn! They grow up fast, and these moments are precious!