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Being a first time puppy parent can be a wonderful time in your life and seeing your new puppy fills your heart with love. Then comes the reality of how to raise your puppy well and make the right decisions.
What is the best food, dog bed, toys, leash, the list can be long but there is one thing I think can get overlooked unintentionally by a new puppy parent. The answer is socializing their puppy to their life and the outside world.
It can get further complicated if you have never had a puppy, your last dog was elderly, or had a puppy when you were a child but not as an adult.
Furthermore, add in everyone’s opinion on this topic, as well as researching socialization yourself, and you may feel stressed that it will not go well.
I wanted to write a post on this topic to make it simple and actionable as this amazing relationship you have started with your puppy deserves to flourish together from the very beginning.
What is Socialization?
To have a better chance with socializing your puppy means understanding what the word actually means. Socialization is: teaching a puppy to be comfortable with a variety of places, situations, people, and sounds. Socialization is essential to having a stable and reliable dog and needs to be a priority in training your dog from day one.
Now that you know what socialization actually is then you can start looking at your family, friends, even objects like the vacuum in your house, and figure out how to incorporate them in your puppy’s world. Remember you want to keep socializing your puppy everyday.
Why You Should Socialize Your Puppy
It may seem like an obvious answer to have a well adjusted, confident, and stable puppy then socializing he/she from the beginning is why you must do it.
However, the main reason is if you do not take the time right from the start to socialize them, then they will have no curiosity for new things, or be able to adapt well to different environments.
Instead you will have a puppy that will be nervous, stressed out, and have fear of everything rather than be open to new things, people and experiences.
You may think a one time exposure to something new will do the job but it has to be a continuous part for you and your puppy’s in everyday activities. It may seem like a lot to incorporate in your life and I understand that but it must happen that fits your lifestyle and schedule too.
However, if you do not start socializing from day one then your puppy will have more concerns and lack confidence for the rest of there life. Therefore, you will have struggles doing the basic things in life (new things or people come in your life) or even going on a walk.
If you want to have a social life, have parties at your house, take your puppy on a weekend trip to a new location, or have puppy friends then socializing your puppy should be a priority.
Furthermore, puppies that are not socialized well can grow up to be fearful and not confident to handle new things in their life. Therefore, that can limit what you and your puppy can do and make things stressful rather then enjoyable.
I want you and your puppy to have a chance to have a well adjusted life and socialization will make a huge difference in your relationship for the better.
Risks of Socialization
If you listen, watch, or read articles about socialization you may think to wait until your puppy is fully vaccinated.
Parvovirus comes up a lot with puppy owners, or their veterinarian said to hold off on the socialization because of vaccine protocols too.However, times have changed and there are ways to minimize the risks when socializing your puppy.
Health Risks: Like I mentioned above with Parvovirus that this can be the one that gets everyone nervous or you hear a bad story from another dog or puppy owner.
I would ask your veterinarian what cases they have been dealing with in your area and read up to be proactive. Also, I would ask other puppy owners or dog owners you plan to do some play or meet what is the history of their puppy or dog.
There is no way to say with 100% guarantee that your puppy will not be at risk for things, however if you are doing the standard shots and taking precautions when socializing your puppy that can definitely help to minimize that from happening.
For more information about health and puppy socialization, please refer to this article from The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior to learn more.
How Fear Imprint Periods Can Impact Socializing Your Puppy
One other area I wanted to share with you about socialization and your puppy is understanding Fear Imprint Periods. You may be thinking what are fear periods? I remember trying to explain them to my mother-in-law when she got her new puppy recently. She is someone who has had dogs before but never knew about fear periods.
What is a Fear Imprint Period? It is a period between 8 to 12 weeks and then again between 5 and 14 months of age in which your puppy may become especially fearful or nervous.
During these periods it is essential to make sure your puppy has positive experiences, because if they have a scary one that can affect them for the rest of their life. Just one bad experience can have long term effects in their life with you and the outside world.
Having a puppy whether you are a seasoned or new puppy parent does not matter. Socialization needs to happen but the time, exposure, and things could show you a different reaction as each puppy is different.
Therefore, you will be able to help your puppy thrive during the Imprint Fear Period by reassuring and keeping things positive for them.
Simple Tips to Socialize Your Puppy
There are ways to get your dog socialized but in a safe and easy way. I wanted to share some simple tips to help make this process easier for you and your puppy. Dog training is very important especially with a puppy but it does not need to be complicated.
Tip 1: Always have treats (I like Zuke’s and Botanic Treats as they are easy to break up and give to your puppy) and to reward your puppy for doing well with new things, people, other puppies.
Tip 2: Keep those treats in a treat bag (Doggone Good is the one I use and recommend) so you can reach them quickly as good behavior can happen at any moment.
Tip 3: Plan ahead with your puppy and always remember it is okay to leave if your puppy cannot handle the situation.
Tip 4: You can take your puppy out but just not let them touch the ground yet (if they are under 4 months old). Dog strollers could be helpful to secure your puppy but still allow socialization to occur safely.
Bonus Tip: You could use a backpack/carrier if your puppy can fit into one as another way to take your puppy out and socialize.
Tip 5: Have friends, family, kids, come over to your house. Space out the time they come.
Tip 6: Learn dog language so you can understand your puppy and know when they are getting stressed and how to help them.
Tip 7: If you are struggling or not sure how to socialize your puppy find a professional dog trainer as well as go to puppy classes.
I hope these tips as well as this blog post are helpful for you and your puppy. Let me know if this post was useful by leaving a comment. Finally, if you want to get a checklist of things to have on you for walks then grab my freebie. Walks are another opportunity to socialize you puppy and having the right tools on you will help make them better. Here is the link to the freebie again.