Do you want a friendly and trustworthy dog with people and other dogs? You may think that all you need to do is adopt the right breed, and your job is done. But how you care for your dog – especially socialization training – plays a vital role in how they respond to people and other dogs, especially if you’ve adopted a puppy.
Puppies have a short period of development, from puppyhood to three or four months of age, and what they experience during that time can significantly impact their entire lives.
Suppose they have a lot of positive contact with other dogs, various humans, and new situations during that developmental window. In that case, they are more likely to grow into confident, relaxed, and friendly dogs.
Trainers refer to this process as socialization, and it is one of the most important things you can do for your puppy’s lifelong well-being. Here’s what you should know about socializing with your puppy.
What happens if you don’t allow your puppy to socialize?
Puppies who are not socialized grow up to be afraid of other dogs, people, and pretty much anyone and anything outside of their daily lives – and this fear can lead to aggression. Studies show that poor socialization is a significant factor in dogs with aggressive tendencies.
While the early years are prime time for socialization, it’s not the only time. Even dogs with a high social life when they were young can become less friendly over time if they are isolated as adults.
If your adult dog didn’t get enough socialization growing up, you could improve their social skills; nevertheless, adult personalities are more fixed than puppy ones.
You must move slowly and carefully, and if you see signs of aggression or extreme timidity, seek help from a professional trainer or behaviorist immediately.
How do you use socialization to raise a friendly dog?
If you consider adopting a puppy, socialization should begin almost immediately after you bring them home.
Ask your shelter or rescue for tips on how to start the process. You may also want to get some advice on doggy daycare and obedience classes for your puppy to learn and meet other people and dogs.
Puppies should learn from their mothers.
Sometimes, when we adopt, we don’t say how long a dog can spend with its biological family. However, if you have a choice, do not take your puppy away from its mother and littermates until it is eight weeks old.
Interaction with their mother and siblings teaches puppies about getting along with other dogs. If you take your puppy away from their canine family too early, you may be doing permanent damage to their social skills.
Meet new people
Give your dog lots of fun experiences with a wide variety of people.
If you can, let your dog meet big kids, little kids, kids who run and jump and yell, tall men in boots, women in hats, and people of all shapes, colors, and sizes. If your dog has regular contact with all types of people, especially as a puppy, they are less likely to be afraid or aggressive.
Experts recommend hosting “puppy parties” where a young puppy is exposed to many different people as they learn how to get along with humans. You can also let your dog make friends with the mailman and neighbors and take them to the cafe or work.
Again, if it is difficult or unsafe to make new friends at this time, you may need to get creative. You may need to use some Kuoser bandanas, slobber wipes to make your pup look more friendly, and picking out a cute dog bandana is a good note.
It can be difficult to socialize in a pandemic or any other situation where new dangers arise. But be responsible and keep social distance when possible while still training your dog.