Socializing puppies from a very young age is essential. A well-socialized puppy creates a stable, well-behaved, and relaxed adult dog. Socialization is a lot more than getting your dog used to the presence of other dogs. You need to get your puppy comfortable with different situations, people, other animals, sounds, and textures at an early age so that it is less aggressive and prepared when exposed to different scenarios as they grow up.
The most beneficial time to socialize your puppy is between 8 to 12 weeks. Even if your puppy is a bit older when you get it home, you don't have to worry. All you need to do is begin with socialization as soon as you can!
There are many misconceptions about socializing the little furballs before they are done with their vaccinations. But the fact is, you don’t need to wait for the puppy vaccinations to be done before you take them out for socializing. We’ve listed out the top tips of how you can socialize a puppy even before they are fully vaccinated. Let’s get started:
Start playing hide and seek at home
This is a fun game, to begin with, socialization at home - you can hide and let your pup find you. While you do this, you are acclimatizing your puppy to different rooms in your home and different types of flooring. Quite a lot of dogs find certain floors slippery and scary. But you can always use positive reinforcement to help your dog understand that these floors aren’t actually as scary as they seem to be! Use treats (you’ll need a lot of them in the beginning!) so that your dog is encouraged to explore the slippery floors as well.
Field Trips To Your Friend’s Home
Trips mean car rides - and car rides can be scary for some dogs. You can begin with short car rides to places close by. Taking them out for trips would help them brush up their socialization skills off their home turf in a completely new environment.
Little pups are a bit too small for dog parks. They may get into trouble with older dogs, leaving your little furballs more scared and fearful. A better alternative is arranging puppy playdates. Set up a puppy date with one or two pups of your dog’s age and size, and make sure they are up to date with their vaccinations. Your dog needs to have at least two rounds of vaccinations complete to participate in playdates.
Remember, your pup isn’t completely vaccinated yet, so the latter part is super important. Ensure the playdate dogs are well tempered so that your little pup can have fun playing around with them. You can always ask your vet for references - they are well-versed with the vaccination history as well as the temper of dogs of similar age as yours.
With treat tasting, you can help your dog understand different tastes and textures. As long as your dog doesn't have any food allergies, you can always get them to try different treats and foods. Get creative and use puzzle toys to make them work for those treats. Mashed bananas, crunchy carrots, cucumber, apples, sticky peanut butter, or even sweet potato crisps. You can train them while you introduce them to different treats - so that the treat tasting sessions serve two purposes!
Dogs are afraid of peculiar sounds - it may be the vacuum cleaner, a truck passing by or even fireworks. Exposing your dogs to different sounds is an important part of the socialization process and you need to expose them to sounds that may be scary. They need to learn early on that these sounds mean good things and are not associated with bad things. Start with slow exposure to different sounds at home (the vacuum cleaner, grinder, hairdryer, and so on). Associate the sounds with some delicious treats, so that your pup knows that these sounds mean that something good is coming.
Once your puppy is fully vaccinated, you can go ahead with the following:
Enroll Your Puppy in a Puppy Socialization Program
Find a good, reliable trainer who conducts comprehensive puppy socialization programs and enroll your puppy in a class. Look for a trainer who has vast experience and goes beyond just letting puppies interact with each other. The class size should be on the smaller side (the smaller, the better!) and instructors should be teaching puppies all types of socialization skills, and not just letting pups play with each other.
Go Beyond Playgroups
You signed your pup for a socialization class - but is that enough? Not really! Apart from the socialization class, you also need to have fun with your puppies and let them explore the world in a positive way. Take your puppy along to see, smell, and experience new people and places to hone their socialization skills. Let them explore around the playground, climb up and downplay equipment, meet different people and of course, let them play with other puppies as well!
During socialization, it’s important to remember to not force your pup to do something they are nervous or very scared about. You can’t really reason with puppies (like you do with little kids). When you pet them and keep saying “it’s okay, it’s not that scary”, you are actually inducing rewarding behavior. You don’t really want to reward a puppy for something they are afraid of - so be careful! But yes, any movement in the right direction needs to be reciprocated with an upbeat response and a reward. Understand your puppies and help them explore their five senses in a fun, positive way. And yes, patience is key - socializing is a long process, but totally worth the effort!
At our company, Million Dogs, we offer super comfortable healing cone for pets, so if there is something you are looking for, we have got you covered. You will find a variety of cones on our website. Shop below!
Follow our instagram @milliondogs_hello