While new puppy owners are told that socializing their puppies is important, and it is, this can often lead to distressing situations for your new family member – which is the opposite of the point. Here are some steps to take to start socializing your puppy in a way that will make him feel safe as well as provide you with the desired response:
Shadow a Puppy Class
If you think a puppy class might be the best route for your pup, shadow the class first. Do not bring your dog with you. You want to look at the size of the class, the size of the other dogs, as well as the location, noise levels, and types of instruction. Pay special attention to any signs of stress for dogs (or other owners), as you definitely don’t want to put your pup in a stressful situation.
Learn Your Pup’s Body Language
Before you start socializing your pup regularly, you’ll want to make sure you can identify when he feels unsafe. If he has a wagging tail and a soft eye expression, he probably feels good. If he plants his feet and refuses to walk, respect his reluctance. Pushing him into an experience that makes him feel scared or unsafe will have the opposite effect from teaching him to be outgoing and accepting of new situations.
Avoid Other Dogs – At First
Unless it is a dog that you know, keep your pup at bay. You don’t know anything about the other dog’s temperament or vaccination history, and the last thing you want is for a strange dog to attack or infect your puppy. Once your dog has all of his proper vaccinations and is old enough to present his own body language, then you can find some other dogs to play with at the dog park or in your neighborhood.
A new puppy is definitely an exciting addition to any family. However, this period of time is not a good one to take your puppy on big adventures with lots of people, other animals, or loud noises. All of these things can contribute to making an environment where your puppy does not feel safe.
If you are beginning to socialize a new puppy, we recommend a class. Canine College can help with dog training and socializing classes. The classes are small, comforting, and given by professionals who can make the experience a good one for both you and your dog! Check out our training courses here!