When Should Puppy Socialization Begin?
The critical socialization period for puppies spans from two weeks to 16 weeks after birth, which means a huge portion of this puppy socialization happens under the direction of the breeder. This is just one reason picking a breeder you trust is so important.
During the first several weeks in its new home, a puppy is often limited in socialization opportunities, as vets may advise against contact with new animals and environments until the puppy is fully vaccinated against infectious disease. Without early socialization, you might find yourself facing an uphill battle as you work on dog training and basic obedience skills.
The Dog Park, Puppy Classes and Meeting Other Dogs
As soon as you can safely do so, consider taking your puppy to neighborhood parks where it can meet new people and healthy dogs or signing up for puppy classes or socialization classes where it can interact with other young puppies and older dogs. You may also want to visit friends who have adult dogs and take your puppy along for a play date.
Why Is Puppy Socialization Important?
Healthy dogs need exercise, which often means taking them into a new environment. A dog that’s not well socialized will struggle to walk on a leash, especially when there are any potential distractions.
Dog parks or homes of friends and family members are also likely to be off-limits if your dog is fearful or aggressive in new social situations. Even your own home can feel like a scary place if your dog exhibits poor social behaviors. In fact, the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior says, “Behavioral issues, not infectious diseases, are the number one cause of death for dogs under three years of age.”
A well-socialized puppy should grow into a healthy dog that will fit into your life stress-free, walk alongside you, play happily with other dogs, greet new humans with calm behavior and create positive experiences.
How to Work on Puppy Socialization
Beginning within the first few weeks of a puppy’s life, it should be introduced to new stimuli — that is, new sounds, sights, smells and more — in a controlled environment.
How Socialization Begins at Central Illinois Doodles
At Central Illinois Doodles, we begin the socialization process from day one, ensuring every puppy is accustomed to human touch. We employ early neurological stimulation, or ENS, which is an advanced process of introducing newborn puppies to mild stresses in a caring, controlled manner. This helps stimulate the dog’s neurological system, which is essential for development and growth while increasing its stress tolerance in the presence of humans.
As puppies continue to grow, socialization includes frequent introductions to new experiences during this critical period of development. This can range from the feeling of a new type of surface under their paws to playing with interactive toys and other puppies and older dogs, and even car rides to new locations.
Once your puppy is home, get the whole family involved so your puppy understands its place as a member of your pack. Keep all socializing interactions positive, encouraging your puppy and praising its good behaviors so it’ll have a positive association with new things.
Take baby steps, and don’t try to introduce too many things at one time.
It’s also important to remember that puppies get tired and need a break from constant stimuli. Make sure your puppy has a secure place, such as a crate, where it can retreat for naps and time playing alone. Crate training can also help create healthy, balanced attachment as your puppy grows and ease potential anxieties when you’re away.