Socialization is critical

Socializing a young pup is probably the most important thing you can do with your pup next to housebreaking. With your guidance and leadership a young pup needs to be exposed to the world around him/her. Pups that miss out on proper socialization often have problems relating to new places, people, dogs, and environments as they mature. 

We have learned that there is a small time period in the pup’s developmental stage to accomplish proper socialization. Many experts agree that the period from 8 weeks to 4 or 5 months of age will determine how your dog will perceive the world and it’s surroundings as an adult.

If your goal is to have a well rounded, confident, environmentally stable, secure, social, and outgoing dog this is the time to do it.

Well, there are a number of things to consider. First to be considered is the dog’s age. You do not want to put a young puppy in fearful or threatening situations. That could be meeting aggressive dogs that may inappropriately discipline your pup. Also, extremely loud environments, heavy traffic, railroad cars passing and things of the like. There is a time for this as the dog matures except for meeting unstable or overly aggressive dogs.

Start slowly. Take your pup everywhere you can that is safe and it can be exposed to friendly environments, people, small obstacles and places. Have treats and be prepared to play with your pup in these new environments. At this young age it is all about confidence building and letting your pup know you are his/her leader and it is safe exploring the world with you. One thing to realize that we can’t stress enough is that your pup may show signs of insecurity or become mildly frightened at times. How you handle this is critical to your pups development. Please do not coddle your pup if it shows these behaviors. It is natural. You must work on teaching the pup that these things you both are experiencing are really nothing to worry about. If you coddle and hug your pup you are convening that it is ok to be scared and you are not helping the dog get over it with a confident attitude. When this happens you need to act like nothing is wrong and start working on redirection. There are many ways to redirect your dog’s state of mind. The most powerful is directed play training. A high value treat may do the job as well. But it must be given when the dog’s mindset is correct and you have gotten him out of a fearful state and have his focused attention.

As your pup starts to get older you will want to start more challenging experiences. It is really up to you what you feel your pup or should we say future adult dog should be at ease with. A lot depends on your lifestyle and living arrangement. If you live in the city your pup will have to learn to adapt to the stimulus with your positive guidance from the start. If you live in the country it will be very important to get your dog out and about during this critical stage. Dogs will have a tendency to become suspicious of things they were not exposed to at a young age, and this can lead down a road that is not all that pleasant for the dog and the family.

Don’t forget when you are out and about with your pup stop in at your Vet’s office for a biscuit and pat on the head. They will be happy to see that you are taking steps to make the dog comfortable in this environment. Generally the only time most dogs go to the Vet is for their vaccines, check ups, injuries and illnesses. If you take this step to visit for fun occasionally, it will be much less stressful for everybody including your dog, when it may need medical attention.