Socializing your puppy at an early age is the best way to prepare them for a long, happy, and content life as an adult.
But it’s not just about taking them to the local dog park to mingle with other dogs, it’s about introducing your puppy to new sites, smells, and even new human friends.
Problems like aggression, biting, and shyness can be attributed to inadequate socialization. According to WebMD, “Poorly socialized dogs are much more likely to react with fear or aggression to unfamiliar people, dogs and experiences.” These experiences can be as simple as a tall flight of stairs, honking horns, or a bicycle. It’s important to expose your dog to a variety of simple experiences as well as unconventional interactions like the smell of farm animals, a group of young children (supervised, of course), or cats! If not socialized, dogs may act out of fear in order to drive away what is frightening or threatening.
The window of socialization is important. Dog Owner’s Guide puts the critical time period between eight and 16 weeks. During this time, you can show your puppy good and positive experiences with children, other adults, smells, and sounds.
Today, we’re giving you a few of the best places to socialize your puppy and some experiences that will help them develop a healthy outlook on new people and places.
What experiences do you expose them to and why?
When socializing, think about the everyday experiences that your family engages in; such as baseball games, going to the bank, playing at the park, and walking around the block. These sites, smells, and human interaction (outside of the family) are just a few places that will broaden their view of the world. Depending on your lifestyle, the things you expose your dog to will be different.
Here are a few places that you can take your puppy to show her what your community and family are all about:
- Sit at the entrance to a shopping mall. Strangers will most likely flock to your puppy as he is so cute and irresistible teaching him that strangers are okay. You can even let some people give your dog treats!
- Take your dog for short car rides. There will be times when you have to take your dog to the vet or travel, and exposing them to a car early will help with anxiety.
- Expose your dog to an elevator and stairs.
- Consider household items like a lawn mower, weed eater, or vacuum cleaner, duster, or hair dryer.
- A construction site. Think of all the noises and machinery that she’ll be exposed to.
- People of different ethnicities.
- People in uniform.
- Children, toddlers, and teenagers.
- Take them for a walk in the dark.
- Sporting events, fireworks show, or a concert. Let your puppy get familiar with crowds, cheering, and other loud noises.
- Other animals, including cats. Consider taking your dog to a farm where he can smell a variety of animals or perhaps a visit to an animal shelter.
Be creative! There are many ways to socialize your puppy other than the places listed above. The end goal is a dog who assumes the best when she meets new people, new dogs, and new places. Get the whole family involved, and use the puppy as a way to get out and discover what makes your town unique.