Why Is It So Important To Socialize Your Puppy?
Socializing your puppy is not only important to him/her, but it’s important to you, your family, other dogs or animals, and to other people. It’s important because it ensures your puppy can become a confident and friendly adult.
What is socializing?
There is actually a “window” of time in a young puppy’s life when they are more open and accepting of new things they will be coming into contact with, a time when they can learn what is normal and acceptable, and how to act, interact, and react.
Socialization will help Fido from being fearful of new things, sounds, other dogs and people who might otherwise frighten him. And it will help him, when he comes into contact with something new, from becoming overstimulated, confused, and from possibly acting out out.
It’s a big world out there, and socializing your pup is a great way to introduce him to it…
You can begin the socializing process between 3-7 weeks of age.
Begin slow and remember that socialization is a process, not a destiny…it takes time and can’t be done all at once, or in a single experience.
Introduce your pup to:
- A variety of people, other animals and other dogs…
- People who are different ages, heights, weights and genders
- People who may be in a wheelchair, use a cane or a walker
- People with large hats or large voices
- Well behaved dogs
- Large and small breeds of dogs
- Sights, sounds, textures, experiences…
- Loud noises from vacuum cleaners, blenders, musical instruments or hair dryers
- Groups of people
- Dog parks
- Cars, trucks, bicycles, baby strollers
- Rides in the car
- Remember, you’re not trying to scare the pup, just introduce him, so take it slow and easy. If your pup is feeling a bit uncomfortable during any of these experiences, don’t force him to continue with it, he will feel trapped and fearful. Try it again at another time.
A great way to help your dog feel comfortable around these new situations is to show plenty of praise and have his favorite treats on hand to let him know that everything is going to be ok.
Can you socialize an older dog?
Although it will probably be a bit more difficult to socialize an older dog…It’s never too late! Just get started. Both you and your dog will be glad you did.
A perfect example of when an older dog might need socializing, is an older dog that has been adopted and is showing signs of:
- Fear, shyness, anxiety or aggression around other animals or people he doesn’t know
- Excessive barking
- Uncontrolled wetting in new situations
You should continue practicing socializing behaviors throughout your dog’s life.
One of the best things you can do for your new pup is to get him signed up for a puppy class.
I believe that the most effective method of dog training revolves around teaching your dog what you want them to do, how to behave, how to act in their environment, and what appropriate behaviors are, under given circumstances and situations.