When you’re considering a new puppy, you might be daydreaming of your furry new pal, the fun you’ll have together and all the things you need to do and buy to prepare your home. What you might be forgetting, however, is the importance of making sure your puppy is properly socialized — even before you bring it home.

The Importance of Proper Puppy Socialization

The difference between a dog that barks often, pulls on its leash and overreacts to new situations and one that will walk calmly by your side and interact in a friendly, nonaggressive manner at the dog park largely comes down to how well it’s been socialized.

To ensure you enjoy a happy relationship as your puppy grows and build skills that will last throughout your dog’s life, it’s essential to start socializing your puppy early. 

Risks of Poor Socialization

The unfortunate fact is that dogs that have been poorly socialized early on tend to have behavior problems that can lead to them being given up, even by the most caring of owners. Common behavioral problems among dogs that have not been well socialized include:

  • Barking or overreacting to noises
  • Displays of fear or aggression around other dogs
  • Aggressive or overly energetic reactions to new people
  • Avoidance of unfamiliar situations
  • Difficulty in handling (i.e., pulling on the leash, jumping, etc.)
  • Difficulty with house training, crate training and other behavioral basics

A dog that’s noisy, resists potty training, jumps or even bites is not only an inconvenience but a serious safety issue. The key to a happy, confident dog is making puppy socialization a top priority and picking a breeder with the same values.

If you and your family are ready to reserve a Doodle

Central Illinois Doodles is the best Doodle breeder in the Midwest

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.

From the when to the why to the how to introduce Puppy Socialization

It’s very important to know that your next puppy is with the best Doodle Breeder…

Is It Possible to Socialize Dogs After 16 Weeks?

YES!! If you have a dog that’s missed out on positive socialization during those crucial early months of life, hope is not lost. While you might not be able to expect perfect, quick results, there’s still plenty you can do to patiently help your dog learn more desirable social behaviors.

Just like with a puppy, you want to work on introducing your older dog to new sights, smells, people, places and other animals. It’s especially important to focus on positive reinforcement. Take things at your own pace, expect that there may be some setbacks along the way and praise your dog frequently for good behavior in new situations.

Consider Training Classes

If you aren’t seeing the changes in behavior you hope for, it might be time to look for professional help or consider enrolling your dog in an obedience class where a seasoned trainer can give you tips and hands-on guidance. Any class that works toward the goal of passing the American Kennel Club (AKC) Canine Good Citizen test is a great place to start.

Finding a Puppy That’s Been Well-Socialized

If you’re ready to take the leap and add a new canine member to your family, Central Illinois Doodles is a family-owned breeder of puppies that have all experienced the best practices in early socialization and come with our two-year health guarantee. We offer Bernedoodles and Goldendoodles — both known to be intelligent, loving and loyal breeds.

You can read all about our puppies for sale here on the website, learn more about our reservation process and check out our Frequently Asked Questions. If you still have questions or are ready to take the next steps, we invite you to fill out our contact form or call us directly at 217-549-7589.