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Socializing Your Puppy

The socialization period is the most important time in your puppy’s life. It starts at around four weeks of age and continues up to 12 to 14 weeks of age. This is the most critical time in your puppy’s social development. During this time, your puppy learns how to interact with dogs, animals and people as well as how to react to new situations and environments.

The learning that occurs during the socialization period will have a long lasting influence on your dog’s behavior as an adult. Puppies who are under-socialized can grow up to be nervous, and often become fear biters. Proper and positive socialization will help your puppy to become a friendly, outgoing and confident dog. Here are some tips for proper socialization:

Praise and reward your puppy with food treats whenever he behaves appropriately.

Don’t force your puppy to interact. If your puppy is a bit nervous about a specific person or situation give him the chance to gain confidence by letting him investigate the situation for himself.

Expose your puppy to as many people and dogs as you can. Calmly praise and reward your puppy for behaving nicely. Let your puppy meet your friends, children in the neighborhood, your mailman, etc. Carry a treat bag with you. When strangers stop to say ‘hello’ ask them to give him a treat.

If your puppy is fully immunized, including rabies shot: Take your puppy with you everywhere you go: to the park, beach, pet store, veterinarian’s office, to pick up the children from school, etc. However, don’t ever leave your puppy in the car alone especially on a hot day, even if your windows are rolled down.

Think ahead. Make a point of getting the puppy to feel comfortable around things he will encounter later in his life like umbrellas, coats, the sound and movement of lawn mowers and vacuum cleaners, people riding bicycles, etc.

Enroll your puppy in a puppy socialization class. This is a great way for your puppy to meet new people and other puppies. In addition, you will learn about normal dog behavior and how to correct chewing, barking, mouthing, housebreaking, etc. You will also learn how to teach your pup basic obedience (avoid classes that advocate physical punishment).

The life span for dogs today is an average of 10 to 15 years. It is well worth it to spend the extra time and energy to provide your puppy with positive and rich socialization so you can enjoy your companion animal for many years to come.

Canine Interactions, Inc.