Starting the New Year off with a New Puppy? What Exactly is Puppy Socialization?
Let’s talk about what puppy socialization is. Most people assume socialization is meeting every person and every dog they see or meeting 100 new people and 100 new dogs during their puppyhood.
The critical socialization period is around 6-12 weeks, but we want to continue with socialization as they continue to grow and reach each life stage.
If socialization is not about meeting every person and dog, then what exactly is it?
The main goal is creating positive experiences and exposures to important things in the dog’s world without it being overwhelming. Each puppy is going to react different to each sound, interaction, and unknown. The goal is to have positive interactions with new things. We want to help expose puppies to our world and help transform “scary” things to good ones by pairing these experiences with
The experiences our new puppies do have with new people and dogs, we want to strive for positive interactions. Ask if the dog’s owner if their dog likes puppies before greeting. Move the puppy away if he is showing signs of stress or anxiety with the new person or dog.
Ways to start socialization in your home
Here are a variety of ideas for socialization in the home.
- Up and down stairs
- Brooms and vacuum cleaners
- Collars and harnesses
- Walking on surfaces such as grass, concrete, tile, wood
- Wearing/carrying unusual items such as hats, umbrellas, wigs, etc.
- New human visitors
- Music and noises from TVs.
- Noises from the neighborhood such as garbage trucks, lawn mowers, etc.
- Other animals in the household
- Household appliance noises
Ways to start socialization outside of the home
Here are a variety of ideas for socialization outside of the home.
- Car rides
- Going to a friend’s home
- Seeing different animals such as ducks, deer, geese, squirrels, etc.
- Seeing/hearing motorcycles or large trucks
- Construction sounds
- Fun visit to the vet/groomer
- Different large parks with lots of space
- Hardware stores such as Lowe’s, Home Depot, Tractor Supply, etc.
The number one goal is to not overwhelm the puppy and expose too many things at once or as quick. If your puppy is showing signs of stress in any of these situations, then we need to take a step back and help the puppy out by creating more distance or leaving all together.
How do we know our puppy is showing signs of stress?
With dogs, it is important to recognize body language, when understanding what emotional state our puppies are in. We want to look for signs that indicate if our pups are having a positive interaction; recognizing when they are stressed or scared.
Happy and relaxed body language looks likes
Mouth is open and relaxed
Ears are in a relaxed manner based on breed
Tail is relaxed and wagging
Eyes are soft
Dog’s overall body looks loose and soft
Fear or anxious dog body language looks like
Ears back or flattened
Panting not related to heat or exercise
Freezing or moving very slowly
Moving away or not eating treats
“Whale eye” when we can see more of the dog’s whites of the eye
Cowering or tail tucked
Every puppy is unique, and we want to focus on that specific individual instead of our expectations or the breed’s expectations. Time to start building those positive interactions and a confident pup!