How to Socialize Your Puppy
by: Linda Betarno
Socializing your new puppy is a fun and entertaining process. You must proceed with caution, however, as these first introductions may affect your puppy’s social behavior for some time to come. A puppy who is allowed free reign in a new introduction may be hard to control, whereas one who is bullied by another dog or frightened by tail pulling children may become nervous in future situations.
The first step to socializing your pup is to take him on regular walks where you will have leash control but he can make some friends. A walk around your neighborhood can help your puppy to meet your neighbors, their children and their dogs. Having your puppy on a leash for these introductions will help you to keep him close, while he explores. If at any time you feel like the situation is frightening for your puppy or if your puppy becomes overexcited, head home for a puppy break.
The next introduction place for your puppy is your local park. Avoid letting strange children pet your puppy unless their parents are right beside them. You never know if a child has allergies or even if that child may pull your puppy’s tail. You should also know that your little guy may try to bite and play with children as he did with his litter mates. For this reason, you may need to put a muzzle on him if you are at all worried about this activity.
Many parks have a dog park within them. These dog parks are sometimes divided into larger and smaller breed areas. This keeps smaller breeds from getting hurt from playing with the larger dogs. Although your puppy is small, if he or she is of a larger breed, you should socialize in the big dog area. After all, your puppy will be playing with these more energetic dogs when he or she is full grown.
Whether the dog park area is joint for big and small dogs or separate, be sure to keep an eye on your puppy at all times. You will have to clean up after him, and you will also need to make sure he does not eat anything that could cause harm. You may even want to walk the dog area over to be sure there are no lurking dangers.
If you have close family members with children, you should set up a special time for those children to come and meet your puppy. Make sure their parents are present and make sure you always stay with your dog around children. Also, don’t let the children feed your puppy as this can cause him to beg and become a nuisance to you and to the children when they visit.
Play dates are a great idea for new parents as well as new pet parents. Meet regularly with one or two friends with dogs. These doggy play dates are a great way to develop some one-on-one puppy friendships. This will also give you an opportunity to discuss puppy specifics such as vets, foods, toys an and training methods.
Every puppy and their pet parent can benefit from a great dog training class. Training classes are a good place to meet other new pet parents and their new pups. These classes will also help you to work with your dog on some basic commands including sit, down, and stay. Teaching your puppy these commands in a public environment can help to foster them listening to you even with other commotions happening. It will also allow the dogs in the class to follow the example of one another.
Socializing your puppy is an important part of his development and training. When in doubt about any puppy behavior, ask your vet.