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Puppy Care - Socialization

Socializing your puppy is a very important part of your dog’s early training.  Socializing your puppy simply means helping it grow accustomed to different people, places, and animals as much as possible.=When puppies are properly socialized, they make great companions and adapt more easily to new situations. An un-socialized dog, however, is untrustworthy, fearful, and even aggressive.  The socialization period lasts up until about 3 months of age, so it’s important to get started right away, as the older a puppy is, the more difficult it becomes to socialize it. There are several simple steps you can take to ensure that you take advantage of a puppy’s early weeks so that it is agreeable and well-trained. The main objective is to introduce new people and things in a gradual and non-intimidating manner.

New Friends and New Places

Introduce your puppy to different people, including both adults and children. You can invite friends over to your home so your puppy is able to meet them in a familiar and comfortable setting. You can also invite other animals over to meet and play with your new puppy, just make sure the animals are gentle and friendly, and make sure they are vaccinated so your puppy does not contract any diseases, as veterinarians recommend socializing your puppy before you take it to be vaccinated. You can also enroll in puppy classes if they are offered nearby. These classes provide an excellent opportunity not only for socialization with other puppies, but also for teaching your puppy to obey certain commands. You should also take your pup to different locations, especially ones where there are crowds of people and lots of activity, such as playgrounds, shopping centers, and parks. Also take your puppy for short car rides, and put him by the window so he can see everything.

A Puppy's Environment

You should also introduce your puppy to everyday household objects, from umbrellas to ironing boards. You should also help him get used to objects that make noise, such as the vacuum cleaner, alarm clock, and television. Puppies should also be familiar with different sounds such as the doorbell, or even people talking and shouting. Particularly loud, obnoxious sounds should be introduced from a distance and gradually brought closer. If you have stairs in your home, help your puppy learn to climb up and down them.

Daily Routine

Accustom your puppy to routine things, such as being brushed and bathed. It should also get used to have its nailed clipped from time to time, and its teeth and ears cleaned and inspected. Doing this in particular will help visits to the vet go more smoothly. Confinement training using pens or crates helps ensure that puppies have safe, secure places for sleeping. If puppies are used to them, crates can serve as comfortable areas, and if puppies are ever hospitalized or confined for travel, they will be less intimidated. Also make sure to schedule in some time for puppies to play alone with their toys, or take naps in safe places such as pens. This helps puppies learn to be more independent and amuse themselves, and prevents them from becoming overly attached to their owners.

Socialization Don'ts

As a general rule, you want socialization to be a gradual process. Do everything you can to avoid frightening or stressful situations, as they can set your puppy back and make him fearful. If your puppy does encounter a frightening situation or seems apprehensive, be careful not to reward fearful behavior by soothing or comforting too much. It’s normal for puppies to act scared when encountering something new. At the same time, don’t push your puppy if he keeps refusing to do something, and don’t allow any experience to be painful or excessively frightening. Your job is to provide the opportunity to experience something new; every puppy goes at a different pace. Remember, young puppies tire easily and need a lot of sleep, so don’t try to do too much at once.  What’s important is that you are continuously exposing your puppy to new and different things and not putting it off, but all puppies learn and grow at different rates. Finally, keep your puppy safe from diseases since it does not yet have all its vaccinations. Don’t leave it in a place where unknown animals have access.