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Last updated on: June 28th, 2018
Introducing your puppy to the outside world, or puppy socialization, helps him to develop confidence. It makes him less anxious when around new people or surrounding, a behavior he will carry well into adult life.
Without sufficient and proper puppy socialization, your dog will likely develop some weird behaviors and phobias later in life. You can avoid this later-life behavior by observing some factors when training your puppy to cope with new environments and people. How? By following these 6 rules of puppy socialization.
1. Don’t Delay It
Starting early helps. During the 8-16 weeks age, your puppy hasn’t developed a fear of people and places yet. Instead, he is all curious and looks forward to new experiences with great eagerness and pleasure. It’s at this time that puppies are usually more receptive to socialization sessions.
Take this chance when your puppy won’t likely react negatively to meeting new people or being introduced to new places and experiences. Ensure you take a few hours each day for this, taking care not to be extreme while at it. Be gradual, gentle and avoid nasty experiences that might make the young pup dislike the new experiences. At 8-24 weeks, your puppy will be the !most receptive and you should utilize this time as much as you can.
2. Make it Pleasant and Exciting
Puppy socialization need not be gloomy or nasty. Make him feel the experience is full of fun and not a way to make him have a bad time. Make him see everything to be fine, not out of your control or overly unkind. Avoid detaining in the house too much; you want to have him tour the outside world as much as possible. If you’re not always around or free to open the door to let him out, you may want to invest in a electronic or smart dog door. This door opens automatically to let your dog out of the house. Only ensure you get the best electronic or smart dog door that will allow you to control your pup’s movements.
Don’t force him do things but rather coerce him to in a gentle way. Use treats to calm him if you feel he has been frightened. The idea is to make him feel safe amid scaring situations. For example, if you’re training him to be at ease and calm when in the company of another dog or dogs, cuddle him if you sense fear gripping him. It will assure him of safety. Do this until he can stay around other pets without fear.
3. Don’t Let Things Get Out Of Control
Don’t overwhelm your pup, ever. Take him to places where you’re sure you can be in control of the situation should occasion demand it. Avoid beginning the socialization sessions by taking him into big crowds of people or in places with too much noise. Such situations could prove uncontrollable and end up intimidating your puppy.
Start with mild environments and gradually move to more challenging situations. Gauge the pup’s reaction to determine if you will progress to more complex surroundings. Remember, never put your puppy in a situation where you yourself would feel helpless, such a busy street. Being the person he looks up to, it may break his confidence and make him fearful the next time you take him out.
4. Don’t expose your puppy to just any type of pet
True, you want to expose your pup to the outside world, but that doesn’t mean having him meet with any type of pet. He is too young and his immune system too delicate. He could easily catch strange illnesses from unknown pets. Start his encounters with just cats and fellow dogs to protect his health. Also, ensure you know the owners of those pets well and that they take adequate care of their dogs or cats. Be sure the friends your pup is meeting are in perfect health, or they will endanger his health.
The other pets your pup meets should be of a tolerable temperament, too. You don’t want him to meet with a dog friend that will terrify him out of his skin; it could bring in him too much fear at the onset when you intend to drive it out of him. And, if the dog you want to play with your pup is bigger, you may have to keep watch so that your little pet doesn’t get harassed around or even get knocked over.
5. Include Variation
Don’t just expose your puppy to the same situation, same environment, or same pets friends. Make varied the situations and environments. You will have little control over your dog’s behavior and reaction to the different conditions he will encounter later as an adult dog. If you had trained him to be around only one other dog, it could mean a socialization problem in later life.
Imagine a situation where the pup, a few months later, encounters ten different dogs. Having carried out socialization training for him with a single dog, your puppy could feel apprehensive and escape from this unfamiliar situation. Training your pup to cope with variations of the same situation prepares him adequately for any eventuality. Include as many different challenges as you can think of. Take him out of his usual surroundings as much as it can allow you. Visit noisy and quiet streets, crowded and isolated cafes, and introduce him to all manner pet friends.
6. Ensure Consistency
Don’t just get your puppy through a couple of socialization sessions, stop for some days and then take it up again. It will only confuse the little dog the same way it would confuse a human. In some cases, stopping midway and then picking it up later can make you have to start all over again. It would even be better to hold short-timed socialization sessions each day. It will encourage you not to skip some days.
With these simple and easy-to-follow rules on puppy socialization, your little pup will grow into a confident, fearless little pal. Ensure you don’t overdo things, though. Keep every part of the socialization process under your control and change anything that appears to do more harm than good. At just a few weeks of age, your puppy is too young for extreme situations. Should you want to introduce him to challenging situations, start low, and raise the bar gradually, allowing him time to catch up.
Understand, too, that different dogs don’t have the same personality. Understand the character of your pup and have in mind what he likes and what he dislikes when planning the socialization sessions. Done well, puppy socialization can be of great help to a pet dog.