The dogma of Socialization: Part One

“I have been reminded a few times already today of the importance of socialization for puppies as well as how many owners do not understand how critical this is for young dogs. I believe that socialization needs to continue throughout a dog’s life and the ideas really are endless. Part 1 is from a handout for our puppy students, so it is rather brief. We will discuss socialization in more detail in further posts.”

Most of us have heard the saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This saying rings true when it comes to socializing your puppy. The goal of socialization is to expose your dog to as many new people, sounds, noises, objects, locations, animals, and surfaces as possible. When doing this, we want to make each new experience a positive one for the puppy. We do this to create a confident, well adjusted dog and to prevent certain behaviour problems from developing in the future.

An even-tempered dog who has been well socialized and is a trained dog will be a joy to travel with, take to parks and any new environments. If dogs are not properly socialized, they can develop a fear of anything new or any change in their life. This can lead to shyness, stress and aggression.

Some key points in proper socialization are outlined below:

  • Start socializing your puppy right away!
  • Stay positive. If you are always upbeat and have a good attitude about the world and new things, your puppy will respond to that.
  • Do not force your puppy into situations they find a little scary. Instead, take the time to allow them to move forward at their pace while making it positive for them.
  • Hesitation is normal, but panicking is not. If your puppy is panicking, remove them from the situation. Go back to a distance your puppy feels comfortable with and work at making it positive for them.
  • Never punish your puppy for any fear responses. You will only make the situation more negative for them.
  • Do not overload them. Doing too much and stressing your puppy out will have the opposite affect. You want them to see and experience, but be careful not to immerse them right away.
  • Positively expose them to appropriate older dogs, new puppies, and people of all shapes, sizes and colours.
  • Take them to new parks, houses, yards and various other indoor/outdoor environments.
  • Let them walk on different surfaces.
  • Allow them to hear a variety of noises.
  • Be creative!
  • Have fun with your puppy showing them what a wonderful world they are in!