Puppies are around five to eight weeks old when they first meet their new owners. This is quite an unsettling time for them, and at this point, they’re most in need of familiarity and comfort. Socializing your puppy at the beginning of a pet's life is crucial as puppies and young dogs can get used to any sounds, smells and new people (or dogs) almost instantly. It’s also the best time to help them get over the fear, an emotion that dominates everything else at this time to develop confidence and become well adjusted.
The first few days with your new puppy
When you bring the puppy home from the breeder, put them in a crate and allow them to get comfortable with being in a small space. Teach your puppy to settle in and then train them to rest. Most puppies will be upset the first few days, so give them a little space to adjust. It’s important to be with the puppy during all of their waking hours at this point. Set an alarm when you need to feed your puppy, take them outside to do their business, slot in some playtime and other activities to get familiar with routines.
Tips to socialize a puppy
Introducing new sights and sounds
Begin trying to socialize your puppy as soon as they’re weaned (about six weeks of age). For most puppies, this means getting them comfortable around unfamiliar people, objects and environments and introducing them to a variety of things in new settings. Teaching your puppy to accept the world around them is a great opportunity to make positive associations. This is when they’re at their most curious. Get them to meet different people, take them to different areas and neighborhoods, and treat them with patience while they get used to all of this.
Take it slow and with patience
Puppies will take time to learn and it’s only with patience and affection that you can help them progress. Give them treats and hugs every time they accomplish something to associate it with positive feelings and comfort.
Earn their trust
Puppies need lots of attention because they are still trying to figure out who they are and what they are supposed to do. They need to feel safe and that you’ll protect them from strangers. Gradually, they will trust you and the world around them as their experiences widen and confidence increases.
Next, it’s time to meet a few strangers. Take your dog to a particular place to meet other people and their pets. Call ahead of time and make arrangements to meet and greet other pet parents or dog-loving friends. Begin with a calm, low-key introduction, but if he becomes aggressive, relax. Use the gentle leader collar and treat, and don’t force the introduction. Take it slow.
How to socialize your puppy in public
Your puppy needs to know how to behave in a public environment, just as a toddler does. When you see other dogs at a park your dog is bound to be excited.
Teach your puppy the ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ commands to get used to being on a leash. Take them to different places like a pet store, a friend’s house, long walks in different areas, etc. to expose them to a variety of situations. Remember to not give treats when they’re fearful and hesitant. This will not comfort them but only encourage the behavior. Simply remove them from the stressful scene and wait patiently till they’re calm. Re-introduce the situation after some time and see how they react. A few times of this process and they’ll soon become used to it.
A new puppy is like an exciting adventure. But sometimes, the whole experience can be overwhelming and confusing, for both you and your dog, no matter how much preparation you do. Being a good dog parent means a long-term commitment to your dog. That means the socialization never stops. It’s a continuous practice, requiring reinforcement, and the capability to tackle all the new social situations that are bound to arise. Together, you’ll be able to live a full and balanced life as will your doggy companion!