When Should I Start Introducing My Puppy To People And Other Dogs?
German shepherd puppies are all adorable but born with various temperaments. Some are bold while others are shy. Some are reserved while others are bold. Some are adventurous while others prefer staying close to their owner’s side.
For this reason, reputable breeders will choose who can own one of their dogs. They’ll decide if the pup is a good fit for a working or pet home. They’ll evaluate their prospect to ensure that the puppy is a perfect fit for their future family.
Once the perfect match has been made, it’s then up to the owner to socialize their puppy so they can grow into the awesome dog they were born to be. This takes work and includes lots of training from a young age.
Start Socializing Your Puppy When You Bring Them Home
But no matter what type of personality the puppy has, most experts agree that the best time to socialize puppies with people and other animals is before 14 to 16 weeks old. But this is before their puppy vaccinations are completed so some owners prefer to wait.
The sooner puppies are exposed to new people, other animals, and different situations, the more comfortable they are. Since German shepherds can be naturally aloof with strangers, this is particularly important so that in the future, you are able to take them anywhere.
For this reason, some animal behaviorist recommends introducing puppies to the outside world, in controlled situations, before they are fully vaccinated. Tufts veterinary behaviorist Stephanie Borns-Weil, DVM says:
“Providing optimal socialization experiences for your dog during the socialization window will really help her be comfortable with people later. After that period of rapid brain growth, a dog’s ability to feel comfortable around people becomes less flexible.”
“I don’t recommend taking a young puppy who has not yet had all her vaccination shots to a dog park where any dog that is not inoculated can show up. But in a controlled setting with vaccinated dogs, risks for illness are low.
In fact, the doctor comments, “research shows that it’s riskier not to expose your puppy than to expose her in a controlled way. She’s more likely to get surrendered to a shelter for being unable to get along with people if she’s not socialized than to contract a communicable disease if put in proximity with others.”
Reasons to Start Socialization Early On
By socializing your puppy and providing them with plenty of positive interactions and exposures, you can help mold their personality. For example, a timid dog can learn the world is not a scary place, a dog that is anxious in new situations can learn to have fun, an overly excited puppy dog can learn to chill out, and an assertive puppy can learn to wait for instructions from their owner.
The best thing you can do for all puppies is to ensure they have plenty of positive social experiences from the day you bring them home. You can do this by slowly introducing your puppy to only people you know who are willing to help by encouraging your puppy with kindness and treats.
If your puppy shows signs of stress and anxiety, you can intervene and slow things down so your puppy knows they are safe and doesn’t have a negative experience. The last thing you want to do is force a puppy, so they associate new situations with negativity.
The Best Places to Socialize Young Puppies
Since you always want to ensure your young puppy is safe from bad experiences and protected from illness, you’ll want to avoid places where there are a lot of strange people and dogs. Instead focus on more controlled environments, such as:
Small puppy training classes
Puppy parties run by a vet or behaviorist
Friends at your home
Take your puppy to visit a friend’s house
Gentle vaccinated healthy dogs that you know
Always talk to your vet before exposing your puppy to the park or other places where lots of dogs and people frequent. Some areas have more instances of parvo and other viruses so it’s important to get that geographic advice.
Once your puppy is fully vaccinated, you can start taking them to more places and exposing them to all sorts of people, environments, and sounds. Some places and things to consider exposing them to include:
• People of all shapes and sizes
• Dogs and cats
• People in hats and sunglasses
• Joggers, runners
• Busy stores/entrances
• Playgrounds (from afar)
• Around the neighborhood
• Dog crates
• Airport/bus station
• Car wash
Socializing your puppy takes planning and consideration but it should also be enjoyable for you both. You want your puppy to have fun and grow in confidence with each new encounter. You can do this by watching your puppy’s body language and not forcing them into anything.
By controlling their environment and whom they meet while they are very young, you can shape their entire future and raise a dog that is ready to face the world right by your side, which is where German shepherds are happiest.
We hope you found this information helpful. As always, please feel free to share with your friends.
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