A new puppy in the house? Isn’t it the most fun thing ever? Their little paws and floppy ears are irresistible. You’ve got all the puppy supplies. You’re ready for potty training. You’ve picked out a name. There is still one crucial step you need to prepare for: socializing! So what is socialization? Why is it important? How do you do it? Keep reading for the answers to all your questions!

What is Puppy Socialization?

The purpose of socialization is to teach your new pup that they don’t have to be scared of new people, places, experiences, or other animals. The first three months of a puppy’s life are super important to its development. This time is when a dog’s brain is most capable of processing and accepting new experiences.

Why is Socialization Important?

Puppies that are not properly socialized become dogs that are skittish and anxious. Dogs are warier of new things as they get older. Undersocilization leads to behavior problems in dogs. The most common reason that pet owners surrender their dogs to shelters is behavioral problems. The goal of socialization is to make sure your pup understands that no matter what they encounter they can remain comfortable and calm instead of anxious or fearful.

When to Socialize Your Puppy

Socializing your puppy early in life is important, but how safe is it to socialize them before their vaccinations are completed? Because of the risk of parvo and other infectious diseases, some veterinarians recommend waiting until puppies are 16 weeks and have had their full course of vaccinations before taking them out.

However, The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior recommends puppies receive socialization before they are fully vaccinated. The organization recommends that puppies receive their first round of shots and deworming one week before they attend their first puppy class.

It is important to discuss with your vet when is the appropriate time to take your puppy out into the world.

How to Socialize Your Puppy

Socializing your puppy should be a lifelong learning process, however, the first twelve weeks are the most critical. You want the things your puppy experiences to be positive so that he feels safe. Be sure not to overwhelm him with too many experiences at once. Most importantly, observe your puppy’s reaction to various situations. If he is afraid, remove him from the situation and offer him a treat. This way he associates the experience with a reward.

Here are a few ways to start socializing your puppy.

Puppy Classes

Puppy classes offer your new puppy a way to safely introduce him to other dogs. In puppy classes, puppies are exposed to a range of new experiences and given positive reinforcement aka lots of treats. This allows your puppy to learn that the world isn’t so scary in a supervised environment.

Socializing at Home

Since your puppy will be spending the majority of his life at your home, it is important that he feels comfortable there. Socializing at home is also a great way to socialize puppies before they are fully vaccinated. To socialize your puppy at home introduce him to as wide a range of sights, smells, people, and sounds as possible.

Socialization Outings

Taking your puppy on socialization outings teaches them how to interact with people and experiences they don’t get at home. Try taking your puppy with you to the pet store or to a dog park. Be sure to bring treats with you so he associates a positive reward with these new experiences.

How To Socialize Your Puppy

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