7 Tips For Socializing Your Puppy So They’ll Grow Up To Be A Confident Dog

Socializing your puppy is one of the most important things you can do for them.  It will teach them how to interact with adults, children, and other dogs and cats.  It will also teach them how to behave in various places.

Puppy socialization helps build strong bonds between dog and owner. It instills confidence in the dog, reduces fear and insecurity, and helps prevent the potential for developing problematic behaviors.  It can also help shape their character and temperament.

Socialization conditions them to get comfortable with different people of all ages and appearances, dressed in different clothing, comfortable with their caregivers (such as the vet), new environments, sights, sounds, and other animals.

Puppy socialization actually begins long before a new owner brings the puppy home.  At about three weeks old, the pup begins to notice things that move and becomes more interested in its littermates and mom.  A good breeder plays a vital role in these early days.  At three weeks pup begins to investigate, learn, and memorize things in its environment.  This is one reason why puppies should not be separated from their mom too soon.

Puppies usually go to their new homes at about eight weeks of age. They should begin their socialization as soon as they meet their new pet parents.  Socialization starts at home then expands out into the world.  Before taking your pup out in public, they should be healthy, free of diarrhea and nasal discharge, and up to date on vaccines.  Some tips to help you socialize your puppy include:

1. Get them comfortable with their collar and leash

One of the first steps to socializing your puppy is getting them comfortable with their collar, leash, or harness.  Start by allowing them to sniff their new swag.  Once they are familiar with it, put it on for a short amount on time indoors while playing fun games and giving plenty of healthy treats.

2. Introduce New Sights, Smells, and Sounds

Everything is new and exciting to puppies so there are plenty of things to explore.  Introduce them to walking on carpet, hard floors, grass, and concrete.  Let them sniff the flowers, shrubs, and fresh air.

Take them to new places where they are exposed to new sights and smells.  Expose them to doors, umbrellas, people wearing uniforms and hats, kids, safe dogs, and go on lots of car rides.

3. Take Walks

Take your puppy on walks to get them used to the outside world.  They will naturally encounter moving cars, sirens, and new interesting sights like the mail carrier.  Keep the pup on a short leash and by your side.

4. Introduce to New People

Everyone in the family should interact and take part in raising the puppy.  The pup should be introduced to friends and begin learning how to greet houseguests.  By now your pup should have met their vet.  Take the puppy on walks where they will encounter strangers.

5. Puppy Classes

Puppy classes expose puppies to different new places, people, and other pups.  They help your pup learn basic obedience skills and can be fun for both dog and owner.  Puppy classes should only be started after puppy vaccines.  To find a puppy class, check out AKC training clubs and dog training facilities or ask your vet for suggestions. 

6. T.A.R Puppy Title

Another fun way to socialize your puppy is to work on your first AKC title.  STAR stands for socialization, training, activity, and responsible owner.  The classes last 6 weeks and end with an evaluation. The STAR is a good foundation for the Canine Good Citizen Test.

7. Take it Slow

You’ll want to keep your puppy encounters happy and upbeat.  Go slow and don’t introduce too much stimuli at once.  Help nervous or scared pups by giving them rewards and letting them take their time.  Read their body language to learn when they’ve had enough.  For example, in the beginning, introduce your puppy to one person at a time rather than a large, noisy group.

We hope these tips help you introduce your new pup to the world so they will grow up to be a happy, confident dog.  Please share with your family and friends.