It is essential that you socialize your puppy properly and right away in order to have a dog that’s well balanced and free of distressing behaviors like separation anxiety, resource guarding and fear.
Experts say by the time your puppy is 3 months old they should have encountered at least 100 different people! More important than the quantity of interactions is the quality of those interactions. Here’s a few key points to keep in mind about socialization:
- Provide Quality Interactions: You want to keep all your puppies interactions with new things very brief. The longer your dog is exposed to something different the more opportunity there is for life to happen and something to go wrong. The best way I’ve heard this phrased is, “in the buffet of sensory stimulation that your puppy encounters, make sure his experience is a quick snack rather than a binge”.
- Read your puppy’s body language: If your puppy is excessively yawning, licking their lips, crouching, avoiding eye contact, or clutching on to you these are all signs of distress and forcing your puppy into a situation when they’re exhibiting these behaviors can be damaging to your puppy. Be the voice for your puppy and be their advocate, know when enough is enough and it’s time to move on.
- Hit The Town: Many people like to pack up their puppy and hit the road right away, to the pet store, a friends house, etc. and that’s great. You want your dog to get used to riding in the car, going different places and experiencing different smells, sounds, etc. But remember to keep these trips brief. Especially the car trips. Many puppies don’t have their equilibrium developed quite yet and may get car sick. They’ll quickly associate the car with a negative feeling (being car sick).
- Invite People And Dogs In: Introducing your puppy to your core group of friends multiple times doesn’t count as socialization. They need to meet people of different ages and ethnicities. Also consider the items your puppy needs to be exposed to like glasses, facial hair, coats with hoods, hats, etc. These are all things puppies can become afraid of later on in life if they don’t have positive interactions now. Taking your dog out to explore the world is great but don’t forget you need to invite people (and dogs) IN to your own home so they can meet on their territory as well. It’s important dogs learn to be good hosts for visitors. Introducing your dog to other dogs in their own home will prevent dangerous behaviors like resource guarding and will also ensure your puppy can have play dates as they grow.
- Interrupt Play: During puppy play time your dog is learning important things like bite inhibition, how to read other dogs body language and how to behave appropriately in a group. If you want your puppy to learn to be a well behaved dog, you must let them be a well-played puppy. No bullying allowed! If you let your puppy be an out of control maniac in play sessions they’ll be an out of control adult dog. Interrupt your puppies play sessions by calling them to “come”, making them do an obedience command “sit”, give them a treat, then send them back on their way. Interrupting play should always be positive (praise or a food treat) it’s not about stopping play, it’s about them learning there are limits and boundaries and they have to listen even when they’re excited. This will give your puppy impulse control and good manners later on in life.
There’s so much more to properly socializing your puppy, but these few tips will get you started off on the right paw. Join our puppy social and obedience class to get your puppy ready to put his best paw forward in the world!Our puppy program is designed specifically for dogs 10 to 20 weeks old. Next class starts Jan. 16th. Puppy social is 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and puppy obedience is 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.. The total for both portions is $210. Age appropriate vaccines required. Give us a call at Camp at 586-445-9663 for more information or to register your pup!