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Puppy Socialization 101
Positive puppy socialization experiences are so important if you want your little one to enjoy a lifetime of confident, friendly communication with the world around him.
Fido needs to learn to see the world as a friendly place, and that the people and animals he shares it with as his friends.
To make sure this happens, it's
important to introduce him to as many new and different people, sights,
sounds, smells and situations as possible... and as early as is safe and practical.
Puppy socialization helps build confident, friendly puppies who mature into well-behaved, calm and sociable dogs.
To help you learn how to get this important puppy training task right I've put
together a list of the different kinds of people, places and objects to
include in your regular daily routines and outings.
Socializing Your Puppy With Other People
It's a good idea to start your puppy socialization program by aiming to meet one new person two or three times a week.
Dogs aren't very good at generalization, and your little guy won't necessarily recognize a very tall man with a hat as being of the same species as a short lady wearing a dress!
Someone who looks different to the other people he is used to seeing, may be perceived as threatening or scary.
Make sure your pup has positive experiences with all of these:
Children (including toddlers & babies if possible)
Teenagers and young adults
Handicapped people & equipment
Men with beards/mustache/facial hair
People wearing hats
People with different color skin/complexion
Men with deep voices
Women & children with high voices
Women/girls with flowing skirts
Puppy Socialization In New Environments
An important part of socializing your puppy is getting him to feel comfortable in strange or unfamiliar surroundings.
If Fido only ever spends time in your home or yard, a trip to
Petsmart (or even to the veterinarian's office) can be scary for him.
Once your puppy has had all his
, try to make a trip to one of the following places (or any others you
can think up) a regular part of your routine:
The Park -
Try a daily walk to your local park, or your nearest dog park if your pup has a reliable recall (ie. 'comes' when called).
You can even 'kill two birds with one stone', by sitting on
the ground or on a bench near where children are playing. Feed Fido
tasty treats while he watches the kids run and play, and hears their
shouts and squeals. This will help him build positive feelings about
being around children.
The Beach -
If you have a dog-friendly beach near you, it can be a great addition to your list of outings.
The feel of the water and sand (be careful when it's really
hot though, as little Fido can easily burn the pads of his feet on hot
sand) and the sound of the waves and seagulls, are all new and
interesting to him.
The Forest/Woods -
Try a short hike through your local woodlands, nature park or nature
reserve. The sounds of the birds, twigs snapping and all the fascinating
scents will keep Fido enthralled.
Sports Events - You probably don't want to try a big football game, but a trip to the
local youth soccer fields or baseball diamond is a great way to
socialize your puppy.
The talking, cheering, shouting and all the action on the field, provide a great opportunity for puppy socialization.
There's not enough room here to list all the places you can visit when you're taking your puppy out-and-about, but the above list has a few good ideas to get you started.
Also, use your imagination and make the most of your particular environment.
More great chances for socialization also exist here.....
Local farm or stables
Outdoor cafe or coffee shop
Superstore parking lot
Doggy Day Care
Dog Obedience School
Pet supply store
Puppy Socialization - New 'Things'
There are many things, or objects, that you should introduce your puppy to as an important part of his socialization experiences.
Some you'll find in your own home or yard, others you'll need to go out looking for!:
Noisy or moving appliances (eg. vacuum, washing machine, blender etc.)
Stairs and steps
Television & radio
Cars, trucks & amp; buses
Riding IN a car, truck or bus!
Skateboards and/or roller skates
Wheelchairs, canes & walkers
Wind & rain
Rivers, creeks and the ocean
Your puppy's socialization program is limited only by your imagination and environment.
Have fun thinking of all the exciting things you can do with your
puppy, and be sure to give her plenty of treats and praise whenever she
reacts with confidence in a new situation, or when faced with new
people or objects.
Puppy Socialization Tips
Whenever you're out and about with little Fido remember these few points :
Be prepared! -
Always take some clean water and a bowl when you're taking little Fido
to the park, beach or wherever. Have a spare leash on hand, and be sure
that he's wearing his ID tags too.
Be responsible! -
Also have on hand a 'baggie and scooper' of some sort to clean up any
little messes your pooch may make.
Dog owners need to be responsible
citizens and not leave any trash or 'poop' in public places.
Non-dog-owning people (and other dog owners) don't want their
environment spoiled by carelessness.
Be aware! -
If you own a guardian breed, or one subject to
breed-specific-legislation it's important to remember that your dog is
an ambassador for it's breed.
A well mannered, well socialized dog with a
responsible owner can do much to improve the public perception of
individual dog breeds.
Above all, I hope this checklist helps you to have fun with your puppy!
Socialization exercises are a great way to build and strengthen
the relationship between you and your puppy, and your hard work will be
rewarded when your pup matures into a confident, happy adult dog that you're
proud to be seen with!