If you’re thinking of adding a dog to your family, you’ll want to start planning ahead for ways you can socialize your new pooch when he arrives at your home. Though socialization should begin in your breeder’s home as early as five weeks of age, it is important that a puppy continues to be introduced to new situations and people to help the dog learn to approach new experiences with confidence and curiosity rather than fear. However, it is vitally important that puppies and adult dogs never be placed in a situation that could end badly for them. Choosing social opportunities that are safe and sure to end positively are a great way to reinforce that doing something different can be lots of fun.
Here is our top ten list ways to socialize your dog:
Invite friends over
When your puppy first joins your home, there will be many adjustments for him to make. During this time, the best means of socialization is bringing new people into his home since this is the environment where he will feel most at ease.
When selecting which friends to invite over, be sure to choose people that enjoy the company of dogs and understand the things to do to put the puppy at ease. To set your pup up for success when meeting your friends, you’ll want to have a stockpile of your pup’s favorite toys and treats, so your puppy learns to associate making new friends with rewards.
Take a walk in the park
If your town is home to a public park where dogs are permitted to enjoy a walk with their owners, this can be a great place to take your pup for some socialization. Be sure to select a park that requires all dogs visiting the space to remain on a lead.
During these early socialization attempts, it is best to reserve any interactions with dog-savvy people only. Dog to dog interactions can quickly go south if the other dog is not socially appropriate, so these should be avoided.
Try to avoid visiting the park when there are lots of children as their natural exuberance can frighten a young puppy. Allow your pup’s own reactions to serve as a guide as to when to encourage social behavior and when it is time to retreat.
Time at the park can also be useful in introducing your dog to new environments. To maximize the experience, have your puppy walk on as many different surfaces as possible and encourage him to explore his world.
Take your puppy to school
All puppies need to learn new skills, and a puppy socialization class is a perfect opportunity for pups to interact with other socially appropriate pooches their own age while picking up a few new tricks in the process. For information on where to find a good puppy class near you, your veterinarian or local kennel club may offer some recommendations.
Explore a new place
Just as you may get bored with visiting the same places and eating the same foods, so too will your pup. Instead of walking the same route every day, allow your dog the opportunity to explore new neighborhoods. This will expose your pup to new sights, sounds, smells, and even people; all positive additions to your pooch’s social development.
Visit a doggy day care
There may be times in your life when you will need to leave your dog behind while you go away, getting your puppy accustomed to staying at a doggy daycare is an excellent idea. Be certain to select a facility that provides proper supervision for any playtime and that only allows dogs together that are suited to each other in their size, personality, and play style. In addition to this, all puppies should have naps interspersed between play sessions throughout the day.
To find an excellent doggy daycare facility near you, consult with your veterinarian, your puppy socialization class instructor, or even your local kennel club.
Attend a local dog event
If you keep your eyes open, you will discover many different activities within your community where you can take your dog to enjoy some new experiences. From organized walking events to photos at the pet store and even just a doggy social for pooches with good canine manners, you will not lack for fun things to do with your pup.
Stop by to see your vet
Your dog will need to visit the vet throughout his lifetime, it is vitally important for your pooch to see the people that take care of him as his friends and not his foes. To accomplish this, head out to your veterinary clinic for social visits on occasion. Each time you visit, be sure to spend some time allowing your dog to greet the staff and have them lavishly reward him with treats and praise. In time, he will come to associate his vet’s office as a place where people love him and give him tasty treats to enjoy.
Take a road trip
A road trip can be a great way to have some fun with your dog while the two of you explore something new together. Many families love to vacation with their pets, so it is a great idea to introduce your pooch to the joys of hotel stays while still very young.
Bring your dog to work
Taking your pup to your office can be lots of fun. Ask your boss for permission to bring Fido in to make friends with your colleagues.
Pop by your local pet store
Most pet stores are only too happy to have a visit from a puppy. Always be sure to go in alone first to survey what dogs are in the store and see if any of them might display aggressive or overly exuberant behavior that might frighten your pup.
Socialization is a key part of helping your puppy to gain confidence. Try our top tips to help your dog learn that new things can be lots of fun!
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