How to Socialize a Puppy – Safely and Effectively | Pupford
August 31st, 2023
Filed under Training
Learning how to socialize a puppy is one of the most important parts of your young dog's life! Skipping out on socialization can lead to fear of other dogs, humans, and other noises and experiences.
Trevor Smith CPDT-KA breaks down everything you need to know about how to socialize a puppy (or older dog) safely and effectively.
PS- Check out Trevor Smith's recommended products here.
HOW TO SOCIALIZE YOUR DOG
OVERVIEW OF HOW TO SOCIALIZE YOUR DOG
IMPORTANCE OF SOCIALIZATION AND TIMING (Starts at 00:30)
The most important window of socialization is the first roughly 16 weeks to 24 weeks of your puppy's life. That is the time that they are most impressionable and when they will start to form an understanding as to what is scary or not scary to them. So socialize early!
It is also very important to consult your vet for any tips or advice about socializing to your specific area and your specific puppy's needs.
Now, if you have missed that window, don't worry! You can still safely socialize your dog to other people, animals, and things!
Related Reading: Puppy Fear Periods
TALKING TO YOUR VET (Starts at 01:09)
But wait. Before you socialize your dog, the first thing that you should do is take them to the vet, and find out when and where you should be socializing your puppy.
SOCIALIZING TO YOUR PERSONAL ENVIRONMENT (Starts at 01:30)
One of the most important aspects of puppy socialization is getting them used to you and the objects/noises in your own home. The key to puppy socialization is to pair novel or new sounds and experiences with high-value treats. It helps your pup make the connection that the sound or object is positive and doesn't need to be scary!
You can access over 100 sounds with adjustable volume to help slowly socialize your pup from our website or app. Check out all the dog training and desensitization sounds here!
Related Reading: Why Is My Puppy Scared of Other Dogs?
INTRODUCING NEW SOUNDS (Starts at 02:50)
After you have introduced your dog to sounds on an app on your phone, you can begin to introduce them to the object associated with it. For example, a vacuum cleaner.
- Don't start by chasing your dog with the vacuum
- Create a positive associaton with your dog. Vacuum cleaner out = tasty treats for your pup
- Show your dog the vacuum cleaner then treat and praise (continue that for a while)
- Then slowly start to roll it around, and treat
- Move the vacuum cleaner into another room and give them a treat
- Continue the process until they are more comfortable with that object
Related Reading: How to Get Your Dog Used to a Vacuum
SOCIALIZING TO NEW PEOPLE (Starts at 03:49)
Another extremely important part of puppy socializing is to introduce them and get them used to new people. You should try to introduce them to as many people as possible. Tall people, men with beards, women with large hats, etc., etc.
Go to a hardware store, a restaurant patio, an open mall, etc. Be sure to be careful around grassy areas, and still check with your vet!
WHERE TO NOT GO (Starts at 04:43)
When it comes to socializing your puppy with other dogs, avoid dog parks. Period.
SOCIALIZING TO OTHER DOGS (Starts at 05:10)
Instead, opt for puppy socialization classes and play dates with vaccinated and well-adjusted dogs. You don't want your puppy playing with just any dog in the early stages of their life. Be deliberate about where you take your puppy to make sure that their interactions with other dogs are positive!
Related Reading: How to Socialize an Adult Dog
GETTING COMFORTABLE BEING HANDLED (Starts at 06:20)
Part of that introduction to people should be learning to be handled and touched. That should include your puppy's paws, ears, tail, mouth, etc.
When it comes to socializing a puppy, the key is to take it slow and at your puppy's comfort level. Focusing on creating as many positive associations as possible in the first 4-6 months of your puppy's life will have a huge impact throughout their life!
For more socialization help, check out this PDF to use as a guide as you socialize your dog to different kinds of people, sounds, animals and more.