Socializing a puppy mean helping her learn appropriate interaction and behavior with a variety of people that she is likely to come across, as well as other dogs. Puppies are great at adapting to their environment, so it is important to expose them to as much as possible with a variety of people, environments, locals, and other animals. As puppies, dogs are naturally wired to adapt and be comfortable with anything they regularly come across; however, once they reach adulthood, they become much more rigid when it comes to new experiences.
At 3 to 12 weeks old, puppies are most receptive to new experiences, and can adapt to almost anyone or anything, as long as the introduction is gradual and is done in a deliberate manner. After the 12th week, and until the 18th, things become markedly different, and puppies are much less accepting of new people and things; and after 18 weeks of age socialization can become extremely difficult.
Why Is Socialization Important?
When puppies are socialized from a young age, they develop into much more predictable, and reliable adults, and are consequently much more pleasant to have around since they can be comfortable in almost any situation without becoming anxious or frightened. That type of anxiety and fear can manifest itself in the form of aggression towards, people or other animals.
How to Socialize a Puppy?
Socialization can be a complicated, and daunting project, since you have to foresee the types of situations, people, and animals that your dog is likely to come across in adulthood, and throughout her life. You should provide exposure to a variety of sounds such as the sound of children playing and possibly yelling and screaming, the sound of cars and trucks (e.g. garbage trucks), a car horn, loud music, and so on. The more variety of noise she experiences when she is young, the better she’ll be able to adapt to new sounds later in life. The same is true for different situations, and places, such as a crowded stairwell, or outdoor shopping mall.
It is important to pay attention to your puppy’s reaction when doing socialization exercise; if the puppy becomes nervous or seems frightened, it is important scale back the exercise and continue from a place of comfort. It can be helpful to have tasty treats handy and use them to calm her down every time she seems to be getting too anxious.
Classes & Professional Training
There are puppy socialization classes which are specifically designed to help with the puppy socialization process, and include play-time with other dogs, and even props and unusual sounds. Aside from socialization, the classes also include some basic obedience training.
If you feel that you may not be able to dedicate enough time during those early and crucial few months of life, it is advisable to seek out the help of professional trainers who may be able to provide socialization services, or give you advice about how to make sure that the socialization happens in spite of your hectic schedule.
Since young puppies are not fully vaccinated and their immune systems are not fully developed, it becomes necessary to take some precautions to prevent infections and illness due to exposure to other animals. Before they are fully vaccinated, you can restrict the socialization activities to humans and different situations only, and once the vaccination is fully up to date, then you can add the animal socialization portion of the exercises.
No matter what the process looks like, it is absolutely essential to go through socialization exercises as it will enable your puppy to have a happy and calm adulthood.