Written by the Pupster Team (2 min read)
Have you ever wondered why some dogs are happy to meet anyone or seem unafraid of loud noises and strange contraptions like bicycles, lawnmowers, or motorcycles? Chances are these dogs' parents did a great job socializing them as puppies. With a few easy steps and some practice, you too can help your new puppy become well acquainted with all the different types of people, noises, and things he'll experience in the world.
It's important you start the socialization process early in your dog's life—the first three months of a puppy's life are when sociability outweighs fear, making this a critical time period for pups to adapt to new people, animals, and experiences. A puppy that doesn't go through this socialization process can have increased risk of behavioral problems later in life, such as fear, aggression, or avoidance. So generally speaking, the younger a puppy is when they begin socialization, the more quickly he gains confidence.
How to socialize your dog
Socialization can be easy and straightforward, plus fun for your puppy! Use our Pupster checklist below to find as many stimuli as possible that you can introduce your puppy to. Make sure you go slow—You don't want to force your new pup to confront fears that he's not ready to handle, particularly because this can create fearful or aggressive responses. Your best bet is to go at his pace—he should be the one to initiate each approach to a new stimulus, and you should allow him to retreat when needed to feel safe.
Generalize the socialization.
Continue to expose your pup to new people, places, objects, and experiences as you go through the socialization process. Importantly, keep in mind that you generalize the socialization as much as possible. In other words, even if your puppy is comfortable with other dogs or children at home, it doesn't necessarily mean that he's comfortable with all children and dogs. As you continue you socialization adventure, try introducing your pup to the same type of stimulus in different situations.
Treats are your friend!
Pairing treats with positive exposure experiences can help make the socialization process go smoothly. For example, if your pup doesn't like it when someone touches his paws, try touching one briefly then quickly following with a high-value treat. Practicing this a few times can help make him feel more comfortable with people touching his paws in the future. Now, if your pup doesn't want the treat this could be an indication that he's feeling stressed by the experience, so try lowering the intensity of the exposure with either more distance or less pressure. Remember—socialization is a process that you should practice every day, it's not something that you and your pup do once and forget about.
Use our Pupster Socialization Checklist to track how many new places, people, experiences, and sounds you introduce your puppy to—
Shop our Pupster recommended products for your new dog:
- Matt Saucedo