A puppy running in the grassCongratulations on your new canine addition! You’ve got your hands full, and we’re not just talking about wellness visits, vaccinations, or spaying/neutering. We’re referring to the importance of properly introducing your wide-eyed pup to the great big world.

Learning about other people, pets, noises, and crowds can be extremely overwhelming. If not learned in a supportive, calm, and patient manner, your new puppy could develop unnecessary aversions. Start your pet off on the right paw with our special tips for puppy socialization.

Who’s in Charge?

Your sweet, squishy, lovable pup was born with numerous instincts, including having a pack mentality. This can be a true asset in regard to training and socialization. As the pack leader, you have the ability to introduce and shape your puppy’s experiences. Want an affectionate and respectful friendship to blossom? Welcome to the joys of puppy socialization.

When is the Right Time?

Your puppy’s perception of the world begins at birth, and the first 16 weeks are critical to future understanding. Accidentally exposing your puppy to negative experiences during this time can result in unwanted or dangerous behaviors later on.

Building a strong foundation for your puppy’s burgeoning social skills typically starts between 2-6 months of age. Taking your puppy out in public prior to 8 weeks of age can result in illness. That’s why getting the right vaccinations are essential before hitting the parks, public sidewalks, or shopping areas.

Open Your Home

To protect your puppy prior to 16 weeks of age, invite friends or relatives over to properly introduce him or her to other friendly people. Try these tips in short spurts of 15-30 minutes:

  • Facilitate greetings with people of different genders, ethnicities, ages, and heights. Try to play around with hats or sunglasses to see how your puppy reacts.
  • Instruct children to behave calmly around your puppy (be on the safe side and make sure they have a parent nearby).
  • Invite only well-behaved dogs over to help your puppy learn the intricacies of canine language. If behavior gets rowdy or aggressive, intervene immediately.
  • Do not allow rough play or interactions that scare your puppy.
  • Reward your puppy! Delicious high-value treats and lots of affection should do the trick.

When Puppy Socialization Goes Too Far

If your puppy feels overstimulated or stressed, you’ll likely observe the following:

  • Lip licking
  • Yawning
  • Pinned back ears
  • Whining
  • Cowering or clinging to you
  • Tail tucking
  • Turning away from people

If you’re in a public place and notice these signs, remove your puppy until he or she calms down. However, if your puppy’s eyes are bright and the tail is wagging, he or she is ready to play and socialize.

Puppy Hearts

When it comes to your adorable new addition, we can’t stress enough the importance of puppy socialization. Allowing your puppy to gain confidence with other people and pets will lead to success in other endeavors, such as housebreaking, leash skills, and learning commands.

The team at Androscoggin Animal Hospital applauds your commitment to introducing your puppy to all the wonderful things in life. Please contact us with additional questions about puppy socialization. Good luck!