Puppy Socialization, It Really Is That Important!
As new puppy owners we often times make mistakes, even the lifelong dog owner will still make mistakes. We try our best to teach our puppies basic sit, down and come, we also want our pups to behave when we take them out or have guests over. You will hear the term “socialize” quite often from fellow dog owners. One of the biggest mistakes during puppy hood is lack of socialization. Socialization is quite complex but extremely simple. Many of us do socialize our puppies, we get them around strangers and other dogs, even cat in an attempt to keep them socialized. Yes these are all great starts but don’t stop there!
Puppies can behave fearful of objects, sounds, smells, and people if they have never been exposed to them positively. Feral dogs often times will run from humans, not because they have never seen one, or they have been abused by a person but because there has never been any positive association made with humans. Exposure and positive association are two of the biggest components of socialization. When socializing your puppy think of all the places you go and would like to take your puppy. What different types of stimuli would you come across? Think of the different types of terrain you would cross to get there. As absurd as that sounds it’s a problem seen in a number of dogs. A puppy may have never been in a carpeted house; suddenly the family moves into a home with carpet and your pup starts to behave strangely and avoid coming indoors or acts fearful.
Socialize your puppy to car rides, taking them on short rides that end in fun and exciting new places or games. We want to build as many positive associations when socializing our puppy to things that could potentially have a negative ending. If you only ever put your puppy in the car to take it to the vet then your dog will begin to associate the car with the vet.
Introducing your puppy to new people is a must, have strangers give your puppy treats when you take your puppy out. Expose them to children of different ages, people of different ethnic backgrounds, people of different height and weight, different hair colors and people dressed in different types of clothing.
Sounds can be extremely startling to many puppies, often times if you purchase a puppy from a breeder they try to expose the pups to different sounds found around the house. As an owner you will want your pup to be okay with everyday sounds.
If your puppy shows signs of being scared of something you will want to make sure you are not coddling them or picking them up and snuggling them. When you do this with your puppy you are reinforcing the behaviors shown, cowering, backing away, barking at it, or even running away. Instead turn it into a fun game, get excited about the scary stimuli, provide your dog with food or treats only when they begin to focus on you and start to approach what scares them.
This article is the sixth installment in our series on puppies. To read other articles in this series and learn more about puppies, click on the links below. For more tips or advice on choosing a puppy Highland Canine Training, LLC at firstname.lastname@example.org or 866.200.2207.