Let’s talk puppies… but more importantly, how to raise them to be confident, happy adults!
Socializing your puppy is the absolute most important thing you can do for them! While no one is quite certain as to when the sensitive socialization period ends, the consensus seems to be roughly at 12 weeks of age. One thing that is certain: early and adequate socialization before 12 weeks can help tremendously when it comes to preventing fear, and behaviour problems in the future; lots and lots of socialization along with positive training is the way to go!
Okay, so what is socialization and how do we go about socializing puppies all while making sure that we do it the right way?
Socialization is the introduction to every day sights, sounds, objects, people and animals that your dog will most likely encounter throughout his lifetime through positive associations and fun experiences in order to maximize your dog’s confidence as he ages!
Socialization is meant to be fun! While we may know that things like garbage bags flying in the wind, people jogging or calm dogs aren’t scary, your dog doesn’t know this yet! It is important to never rush, or force your puppy to like something that he isn’t ready to handle. Allow your puppy to interact with things at their pace and from a distance they feel comfortable at. If they’re feeling uneasy about something, I encourage you to allow them to pull away.
The power of treats! Introducing your puppy to people, animals, objects and situations may not always be enough, I highly recommend making the best out of every new thing your puppy experiences! Let’s make these introductions memorable- not just mediocre! So back to our joggers example: should your puppy find joggers scary, we can make your puppy think that when he sees joggers it rains cheese! However, your puppy doesn’t need to find something scary for you to pair it with treats! First time on a vet scale? Why not add some treats on top of it, let’s nip any fears he may have in the bud. First time meeting kids? Arm them with yummy treats for your pup!
Socialization doesn’t only mean introductions to things at home! While it is important to socialize puppies to their immediate surroundings, that isn’t quite enough! If they only meet your Uncle Terry with the big black beard, that won’t be enough for them to think that all men with big black beards are okay. Generalizing is key! As many kids as possible, as many people in hats as possible, as many dogs as possible… you get the idea.
Group puppy classes! Last but not least, group puppy classes are an excellent way to socialize puppies! Puppy classes allow for safe play opportunities with other puppies, where they can also learn bite inhibition while playing! They are also a great way to socialize your puppy to body handling, not only by you, but by everyone else in the class… a vet’s dream!
Our classes are about to begin, click here for more info!
The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behaviour (AVSAB) strongly recommends enrolling puppies into group classes before they are fully vaccinated, as the socialization window is quite short! "In general, puppies can start puppy socialization classes as early as 8 weeks of age. Puppies should receive a minimum of one set of vaccines at least 7 days prior to the first class and a first deworming. They should be kept up-to-date on vaccines throughout the class." See their statement here!
We've created a list of things that we recommend socializing your puppy to! Click here to download it for free, and get started, the clock is ticking!