How to successfully socialize a puppy
Training a puppy can be a lot of work, but it’s also a lot of fun. A well-trained puppy is a happy puppy, and a happy puppy is a good dog. There are a lot of different ways to train your puppy, and you’ll want to find the methods that work best for you and your pup.
There are some basic things that all puppies need to learn, like the basic commands of sit, stay, and come. However, there’s one specific training that can significantly affect your puppy’s behavior, personality, and openness to new things — puppy socialization training. In this article, we’ll delve into what puppy socialization is and how it can be done effectively and efficiently with your new pup.
What is puppy socialization training?
Puppies are social creatures, and they need to learn how to interact with other dogs and people. That’s where puppy socialization training comes in. Socialization training helps puppies to become confident and well-adjusted adults. It teaches them how to respond to new situations and get along with other dogs and people. Puppy socialization classes are typically held at dog parks or pet stores. They usually last for about an hour, and puppies should be between 8 and 16 weeks old.
The best way to socialize your puppy is to expose them to a variety of people, places, and experiences in a positive way. This can include things like dog parks, walks around the neighborhood, meeting new people, and going to different types of businesses (grocery stores, pet stores, etc.).
Socialize your puppy with these tips and recommendations
Socializing a puppy is one of the most important things you can do for them. It helps them to be less scared of new things and develop into well-rounded dogs. Here are some easy steps to socialize your puppy:
1. Start socialization early
Typically, puppies get to go home to their owners in their 8th week, which means that they’re still relatively young and are still highly susceptible to training. If you’ve recently adopted a pup, it’s best that you start socialization training as soon as possible since this will ensure fast learning.
However, this doesn’t mean that adult dogs aren’t capable of being socialized at an advanced age. With proper training and patience, adult dogs are just as capable as young puppies to get socialized with people, things, and pets.
If you’re a breeder, however, and you’re currently raising a new litter of puppies, don’t wait for the pup’s future pet parents to start socialization. Responsible Australian breeders recommend starting passive socialization as early as 3 weeks or even before they’re rehomed.
2. Introduce your puppy to different people
One of the core goals of socialization is getting your puppy used to the presence of people. If you have close friends or family who are willing to visit your home regularly, this will be a great opportunity for your pet to be exposed to various kinds of people. You can even ask them to bring along their kids so your puppy will have new playmates! Just make sure that they’ll be under your supervision at all times to ensure that your puppy or the kids are safe and happy.
3. Socialize your pup with other dogs and pets
Gradually socialize your puppy with other dogs, cats, and other household pets that you may have so that they’ll become comfortable even in the presence of other animals. This will help your pet adjust and address possible negative reactions to other pets, which will also help you avoid any accidents or other unfortunate situations from happening.
One thing to note though: there are a few dog breeds that are genetically designed to have a high prey drive — including Pitbulls, Retrievers, Hounds, and Collies. If your pup falls into any of these categories, consider taking socialization further with some desensitization training.
4. Take them out in public regularly
If in any case you’re not able to expose them to people or pets at home, another great idea is to regularly take them out in public. You can do this by taking them on long walks where they’ll be able to interact with unfamiliar things. Visit the park, beach, and mall. You can even take them out when you’re shopping so that they can get used to being around people and unfamiliar noises.
5. Be patient and consistent
Just as with other training initiatives, consistency will help your puppy better understand commands, orders, and cues. If you’re socializing them with other people, make sure that you’re using all the same command words to avoid confusing your pup and setting them back a few steps.
6. Reward good behavior with material and verbal reinforcements
Puppies are largely motivated by treats and praise, which may help them perform better and recall more. These are both positive types of reinforcements and these may actually help your puppy associate new experiences with positive behavior. Don’t skimp on verbal praises if your puppy reacts positively to a new experience, and at the same time help them understand that what they did is good by handing them a few treats.
As much as possible, avoid using negative reinforcement since this may not only cause your pet to develop anxiety but may also allow them to develop negative habits.
7. Get them used to being handled
Aside from making sure that puppies are exposed to new people and animals, it’s also important to introduce various handling techniques. These include leash walking, bath times, teeth brushing, and even nail clipping. Try to desensitize your puppy as early as possible with these procedures so that you won’t have any problems with puppy cooperation.
8. Seek professional help if needed
If you’re not quite sure how to socialize your new puppy, or you’ve experienced a few roadblocks in their training, don’t shy away from seeking professional help. Professional dog trainers are specially equipped with all the necessary skills and knowledge for handling difficult cases. You can either ask them for some advice, or you can sign your puppy up for some one-on-one special socialization training.