How to socialize a puppy? We give you 9 useful tips
So you're thinking about getting a puppy or have a puppy, and you're envisioning being the best dog owner EVER. That means making sure it's house trained and friendly towards other animals or humans.
You want your puppy to be the go-to pet, full of life, wagging tail, and be fussed over. Well, all this is possible, but it doesn't just happen on its own.
You have to put the time and effort in to socialize your puppy. Otherwise, if you don't socialize with your puppy, it could be at risk of becoming aggressive or hostile towards others.
9 Tips on how to socialize a puppy
Before we can provide you with any tips on how to socialize your puppy, you must know when to socialize a puppy.
The most crucial period for socialization to start is during your puppy's first three months. Because in those months, the socialization they experience will sculpt their future and allow them to learn good behaviors and habits to take into adulthood.
Ideally, the socialization should start just before you bring your puppy home from the breeder. When you visit, the breeder will want to handle the puppy gently and allow them to approach visitors easily.
Now you have an idea of when, here are some top tips to help your training.
Handle your puppy from an early age
If a puppy is stimulated from birth and is used to a human's touch from birth until 5 weeks, it may be more confident. Similarly, they will be able to develop social skills more quickly and adapt to their surroundings.
For this reason, it's best to buy a puppy from a breeder instead of it being stuffed in a cage in a pet store. The longer a puppy and the more frequent time it has had interacting with other animals, it will be less hostile when growing up.
You must take your puppy on daily walks
Obviously, you can't take your puppy far until they are fully vaccinated, but you can take them around the perimeter of your house. By simply taking your puppy on a walk each day, you can help them become more comfortable and adapt quicker to the outside world. This slowly allows them to become adjusted to any vehicles passing by, animals or humans.
Allow your puppy to have play dates
We know it can be tempting to take your puppy to a park to see many dogs to help with its socialization skills. But this is not a good idea, your puppy can quickly become overwhelmed by other animals, and it may cause them distress.
The best idea is to allow other dogs to come to your home, i.e., if you have a friend or relative, and bring them over. Similarly, if you want to bring your puppy to a friend's house.
A playdate allows your puppy to slowly interact and bond in a safe space with other animals, learning behaviors and familiarising themselves slowly.
Let other people in your house play with it
While many dogs see one particular human as their ‘master,' it does not stop them from bonding to and interacting with other humans. If you live in a house with other family members or housemates, allow them to bond with your puppy.
Let them play with the puppy, feed it and allow it to become acquainted with other people's touch and presence. Once your puppy has become used to the people in your house and family members, you can slowly introduce it to strangers.
Attend puppy classes
Why not achieve two things at the same time? Once your puppy is vaccinated, you could take them to puppy classes. Your dog will quickly learn commands at a puppy class and know how to respond to simple behaviors.
At the same time, they will become familiarised with other animals in a controlled space. To know the best class suited to you, you can always ask your local vet, who should advise you.
Crate train your puppy
Even if you're in the home with your puppy, it must have a routine to follow. After all, puppies learn the best when they have a schedule.
That means putting your puppy in the crate at certain parts of the day for a break or to sleep. This well-needed alone time will teach the familiarity of them being on their own and help reduce the chances of developing separation anxiety.
Play socialization related games
If you're with a group of people, such as friends or family members, you can easily play a few games to help socialize your puppy. To give you an example, here is one game to play:
Put your puppy's food into small plastic bags and give a bag to every person that comes to visit your home. When everyone has arrived and has bags of food, sit down together in a circle around the puppy.
Slowly let one person at a time call the puppy and when it comes to them, let them give it a treat or food. As well as allowing the person to praise the puppy for doing this behavior. Then put your puppy back in the center and repeat the game.
Socialization does not just happen straight away. There are certain signs and signals your puppy may display to show that they're uncomfortable. For instance, if your puppy is yawning, tail tucking, turning away from others, etc. then they may feel overwhelmed.
It's important to recognize these signs early on to reduce the chances of stress and prevent any emotional damage from occurring.
In addition to this, if your puppy starts to bark or frequently growl at other dogs or humans, then it could be a warning sign. We suggest observing their behavior around others, and if they're not happy and become too hostile, then you must seek professional help.
Reward your puppy
When your puppy sees a new stimulus such as a new person, environment, vehicle, or anything else and is calm, reward it with a treat. Such rewards could be their favorite toy or a tasty biscuit, allowing them to look forward to new environments or meet people in the future.
Speaking of giving rewards, you should also provide treats for your friends or family members so your puppy can become adjusted to receiving food from other people.
As a dog owner, you surely want the best for your puppy, don't you?
To help it live a better, happier, and more fulfilling life, they must be socialized from a young age. Socialization teaches your puppy the skill to make friends, bond with other humans, and become easily adjusted to other environments.
You will want to socialize your puppy from the moment it's born and handle it from an early age. It's best to interact with others in its litter and slowly introduce it to members in your home. Remember puppy play days and daily walks to get it accustomed to the outdoors slowly.
Alex Wrigley is a professional writer and blogger who loves travel, technology and dogs. She is originally from the UK but currently lives in Nepal with her three dogs: two pugs and a golden retriever.