When you bring home a puppy, you’re in for more fun than you can imagine. Welcoming a puppy into your life is always somewhat of an adventure.
However, a happier, more well-behaved puppy is more likely when you spend time getting your new pet used to everything. A puppy needs to learn how to live as a properly-behaved part of society, as well as a well-adjusted family member.
The process you use to help get your puppy used to everyone is known as socialization. Even though many people think it’s about having your dog interact socially, socialization is also about new experiences. This process is an integral part of having a well-adjusted dog, as well as entertaining for both of you.
How does socialization benefit your puppy?
Your puppy will be less likely to have issues with anxiety and fear over new experiences when socialized appropriately and early. These benefits not only include better behavior in the short term but also offer long-term benefits for your pet.
Well-socialized dogs adjust to traveling by car, and other means much more quickly. A puppy socialized at an early age will also adapt better to experiences like boarding, hospitalization, grooming, and pet sitting.
Your dog will also have easier access to opportunities for exercise and play with other dogs. For example, dog parks and daycare options work best for dogs with good behavior.
When a dog is better socialized, they are less likely to end up getting away from their owner if startled. Loose dogs are likely to end up being impounded in a shelter, poisoned or otherwise intentionally harmed, or injured. Dogs with better socialization and overall behavior are less likely to end up as backyard dogs or otherwise neglected, relinquished to a shelter, or euthanized because of their behavior.
What do you need to keep in mind about socialization timing?
Puppies will have their best chances of proper socialization during their first three to four months. This age is one where puppies are more open and curious about new experiences. You can socialize a puppy after this age, it will just take a little longer than at an earlier age.
Make sure you use plenty of patience during this time to keep things exciting for your puppy. The more relaxed you make the sessions with your puppy, the better they will adjust in the long run.
How should you socialize your puppy?
Positive reinforcement that involves treats, praise, and playtime is always good. Make sure you do everything at a pace that makes your puppy comfortable.
Examples of things you need to socialize your puppy to include:
- Everyday sights and sounds around your home, including loud appliances
- Family members and friends who visit, even those who aren’t frequent visitors
- Vets’ offices and groomers that will take care of your puppy
- Car rides and trips to parks or other locations
Always make sure you follow your vet’s recommended vaccine schedule to keep your puppy protected against disease. The sooner your puppy is exposed to different things, the better-adjusted he or she will be.