Welcoming a new puppy into your home is a very exciting event! They instantly become a part of the family and with that, you’re going to want to take them everywhere with you. The great news is, we encourage that! Socialization is important for your puppy’s development in order to help avoid seeing engagement in fearful or aggressive behaviors towards novel and external stimuli as they become adult dogs.
What is socialization?
Socialization is exposing your puppy to many different sights, smells, and sounds to help your puppy become well-adjusted to various environments and stimuli.
Puppies have a prime window for socialization between the ages of three weeks to twelve weeks, and in some cases extending to 16 weeks. The few weeks after you bring your puppy home is the best and most crucial time to expose them to as many people, dogs, and stimuli as possible.
We highly recommend you watch our owner and founder, Sean Savage, further discuss the importance of puppy socialization on a Beyond the Dog vlog here.
How do I socialize my puppy?
We recommend setting goals for socialization, especially if your puppy is in the socialization window!
GOAL: Have your puppy see at least 20 to 50 new dogs and people each week
Remember that exposure doesn’t mean contact necessarily! You can achieve this goal by taking your puppy to parks, which we love because your puppy will not only see dogs but they most likely will see kids and small animals too. Trainer tip: Please review the Safety Reminders below. Another great way for your puppy to meet new dogs and people with contact involved is to set up playdates with other friendly, vaccinated dogs. We recommend that you let your friends hold and play with your puppy when possible! Contact is great as long as it’s safe, and you keep it light.
GOAL: Take your puppy in as many different environments as possible, at least 3-5 each week
You want to take your dog out, especially places that you plan on frequenting with your puppy. A few great places to take your puppy to get socialized are parks, busy “human” stores such as Lowes or Hobby Lobby, and dog friendly restaurants or coffee shops with patios.
GOAL: Make socialization fun for your puppy!
You want to make all these new exposures pleasant and fun for your puppy. The best way to do this is with FOOD! Delivering a treat each time your puppy meets a new person or dog will help make this process positive for your puppy. Most puppies will happily take kibble, but sometimes you may need to use a tastier treat. If your dog loves to play, you can also play with your dog in these new environments to make it an extra positive experience for them.
Safety Reminder: Of course, because puppies at this age are young and not always fully vaccinated there can be serious illnesses they can be exposed to. You can discuss this with your vet but we recommend taking appropriate precautions when socializing your pup.
- Avoid going into dog parks and high traffic grassy areas
- Keep your puppy off grass and keep them on pavement or concrete.
- Only let your puppy interact with fully vaccinated dogs.
- Do not let them put anything in their mouth, and bring wipes for their paws at the end of your outing
To see more information on where and how we recommend socializing your puppy, check out our “What is Socialization” blog.
If you’d like help with socialization or have noticed your puppy is a little fearful, please contact us here. We would love to meet your new puppy and help get them socialized!