26 Nov Socializing Your Puppy
Everyone is talking about socializing your puppy, what actually is it?
Simply put it is your puppy learning how to socialize with people, dogs, and various environments. This is a key factor in how your dog will develop as an adult. Often new owners miss out on key time because they must wait until the dog is fully vaccinated in order to take them to a park or attend puppy socialization events. Many more veterinarians are realizing the need for these events and offer socialization events at their place of business. Some veterinarians feel once the dog has had two or three rounds of shots; they are fine to go out to limited areas. Yet some pet owners feel so strongly about socialization, they feel the risk is worth not losing the key training time. Always check with your vet what they recommend, and make an informed decision as to what is best for you and your new puppy or dog.
Take your new puppy or dog, every place you can. Introduce them to various sights, sounds, and smells. Have them walk on various surfaces from stones, to mulch, a slippery floor, or anything available. Take them where they can hear sirens from the police car or fire station, let them hear the sound of a motorcycle driving by.
I often have questions from owners as to what to do when their puppy gets scared at the loud noises, or people when they are out with them. Our first instinct is to coddle and tell the dog its okay, just as we would a child. That is the last thing you want to do for your dog! By telling your dog it is okay when they are afraid, actually reinforces the puppy being scared. You are giving the dog the reassurance that it is okay to feel nervous. This can be very confusing for your dog. What you want to do is “nothing”. This is probably one of the hardest things for many owners to follow. Do not talk to the dog, try to avoid any eye contact, do not pick the dog up and cuddle. Any of those items will reassure you dogs feeling of nervousness. You must let the dog work through the situation. Offer the dog a very tasty treat. If the dog takes the treat, that is great, if not don’t worry they eventually will when they have come to grips with the stress. Many times it may take several exposures to the item that has scared the dog for them to work through it. It is very true to form with puppies and dogs alike, you must take baby steps. If the dog doesn’t get it, it is our fault, we moved to fast for the dog to handle.
Socialize your puppy as much as possible not only the first months of their lives but as they get older. Teenage years and even early adult dogs need socialization to give them a well balanced temperament. You probably got your dog to be a part of your family, just try to include them in every family activity you can!