Congratulations on your new furry family member!
Now, here’s how to socialize a puppy into the world around them.
Getting a puppy is an exciting time full of kisses, hugs, cuddles, and cute pictures. But what happens when your puppy gets around other people or animals? Are they respectful and approach with caution, or do they bound down the street, leaving you in the dust and scaring the town?
Unfortunately, with puppies, the latter is usually true. The good news is that there are ways to socialize your puppy to become a respectable member of society and turn them into the pup everyone wants to pet.
Read on to learn how to socialize a puppy and when to start.
How To Socialize A Puppy
Socializing a puppy doesn’t take any special training or tricks, but it does require patience and understanding.
The key is exposing your dog to new sights, smells, experiences, and people, to help your puppy get accustomed to life.
Good ways to accomplish socialization is by going out in public, exposing them to different ages of people (from infants to the elderly), different ethnicities, and places with a lot of activity and smells. Farmer’s markets are fantastic options because they have people from other cultures and lots of new smells. These markets are also typically dog-friendly (some even have dog vendors!).
If your dog is a puppy, remember puppies are still babies. They can get overwhelmed, so don’t overdo it.
When To Socialize A Puppy
Sources say that socialization should start with the breeder. If you don’t have a breeder (that is, you got your dog from a rescue), then that part of socialization is out of your hands. But don’t give up yet!
As young as three weeks is when AKC says to begin socializing your puppy. This developmental period should be with the mother and siblings with alone time for humans.
At this age, they should be supervised by exploring different smells and surfaces. It’s an excellent time to have some wood planks, tarps, blankets, and other surfaces in the yard for the puppies to walk on and explore.
It’s even recommended to startle your puppy so they get used to loud noises. Vacuuming, slamming doors and cupboards, and dropping heavy items gets the puppies used to common yet loud noises.
Younger is better, but there’s still hope for older puppies and dogs.
Why Socialize A Puppy?
Socializing puppies is vital to associate new experiences, people, environments, and noises as positive experiences. And if a puppy is your second dog, you’ll want them socialized so you have a more harmonious home life.
Proper socialization can even save your dog’s life someday. A good example would be a dog that sees a squirrel. If that dog hasn’t been adequately socialized to see a squirrel and not give it another thought, s/he may dart off in that direction. If that direction happens to be across a busy street, well, you can imagine what would happen next.
Socializing also helps puppies grow up into confident and well-behaved adults. It helps them to realize they don’t have to be on their guard or skittish in new experiences.
Ways To Socialize Your Puppy
There are many different ways to socialize your puppy. Check with their vet to ensure they are up to date on any shots because Fido could pick up a potentially dangerous illness if they are too young.
- Bringing them to a trusted friend’s house
- Taking them to a dog park (Boxi Park in Lake Nona has a great one!)
- Going to a farmer’s market (try the Orlando Farmer’s Market on Sundays)
- Taking them on a dog-friendly hike
- Going on lots of social walks
- Making sure they meet a variety of ages and skin colors
- Using blenders, slam doors, run the vacuum
- Knocking and ringing your doorbell
Can You Socialize Older Dogs?
All hope is not lost for older dogs. Throw that saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” out of the window. It may take longer if you’ve got an older dog, but persistence is key.
Your older dog could benefit from lots of walks (though a leash is vital in case they are skittish or jumpy), trips to the vet, and having new people over.
It’s suggested that you introduce dog parks slowly to older dogs because you don’t know what types of interactions they’ve had with other dogs. Start on the outside of the fence for one trip. Then, work your way to the gate and go inside when you and your puppy are ready.
Optimal puppy socialization happens at a younger age, but with patience and persistence, your puppy will be an upstanding member of society in no time.
Puppies are working hard while they’re socializing. For their growing bodies, make sure that you’re feeding them a wholesome meal and for socializing well, make sure you give them a few treats for positive reinforcement when they do well outside of their comfort zone.
At Rick’s Dog Deli, we make sure your pup has the nutrition they need to continue thriving as they grow.