Experts agree that the first three months of your dog’s life are vitally important when it comes to behavior development. Socializing your puppy early on will help to ensure that he grows up to be a well-adjusted, friendly dog. To help you get started, we’ve compiled a short list of the Dos and Don’ts of Socializing Your Puppy.
- Start small – introduce your pup to a couple of friends or family members first, until they get comfortable
- Let them meet other animals – but only ones that are known to be friendly and have already been vaccinated
- Keep it varied – try brushing, bathing, short car rides, new toys, new smells and sounds, parks, etc.
- Consider puppy kindergarten classes – the perfect place to make new friends and learn social skills
- Reward fearful behavior – your pup will get confused and think it’s okay to be scared a lot
- Overwhelm them – too many new things at once will be overload
- Force them to do something if they’re scared – instead, encourage them slowly and let them approach the new experience / situation / animal at their own pace
- Let them near animals that haven’t been vaccinated – your dog’s immune system is still weak, so don’t put them at risk of getting sick
Finally, if you find your puppy seems to be having more trouble than expected with a new situation or experience, call your veterinarian. He or she will be able to advise you on the best way to handle and treat your dog’s behavior, which will then allow your puppy to grow into a wonderfully well-rounded animal.