Puppies enter the world not knowing about people or the world in which we all live. A puppy needs to learn about the things, people and other animals in her environment. If she is not properly taught, she may grow up to be a fearful, anxious and/or antisocial dog.
The first few months of a puppy’s life is crucial to her development. As soon as you get your pup, you can start teaching her how to listen to you, how to act around people and other dogs. Start slowly with quiet one-on-one interactions and work your way up to interaction with multiple people in noisier environments. Friends, relatives and their pets can help socialize your puppy by simply coming to your home to meet and play with your new friend!
Behavior problems are cited as the top reasons why pets are relinquished. Early training and socializing are the best way to create good manners and a solid bond. Once your puppy is sufficiently vaccinated (according to your veterinarian); take her on as many walks and outings as possible. However, avoid areas that may be high risk for disease such as parks or neighborhoods with stray dogs. Your veterinarian may be able to provide advice on good areas in your community to take your puppy.
To encourage your puppy to interact with other pets and people, reward her with a small treat whenever she meets a new friend. Start with mild exposure and only reward her for non-fearful responses. It is important to remember to take things slowly and have patience with your furry companion. The world can be a very scary place for a young puppy and it takes time to teach them that it doesn’t have to be frightening.
Variety is the Spice of Life
To fully socialize your puppy, make sure that she meets a variety of people of all ages and appearances. It is especially important to introduce your puppy to children because they do not act like adults (they move erratically, are loud and approach with no regard to boundaries). If your puppy only encounters people of a certain age or appearance, she may show aggression or fear when later introduced to people who appear or act different (for example, females, children or men with facial hair).
One of the best things you can do to socialize your puppy with other dogs is to enroll her into puppy classes. However, make sure to choose a class that doesn’t promote punishment, such as swatting, hitting her nose or rubbing her face in her “accidents”. This type of physical discipline can have a negative effect on your puppy’s good people skills.
Most puppy preschools start at eight to twelve weeks of age. Your puppy may not have all of their vaccinations yet, but they will be around other puppies that have just started their vaccinations. Ask your veterinarian about appropriate classes near you.
You will find that proper socialization and development of your puppy’s disposition will take time and patience, but your efforts will be worthwhile as you puppy becomes a friendly and well-behaved companion.