Written by Indiana Lee
If you are considering adopting or otherwise getting a new dog to keep you company, then you’ll need to know how to socialize your new pup. Socialization is how you adapt your dog to new situations and ensure that they grow up happy and well-behaved. This process begins at birth and should continue until your pup can be in social situations without fear.
There are many tactics that you should try when raising a confident dog, and they involve getting them used to being in new places, seeing new things, hearing different sounds, and even making them comfortable within your own home. Let’s talk about socialization and how you can get started.
The Importance of Puppy Socializing
Just like with human babies, you can’t expect newborn puppies to just go out into the world and understand everything they see. There’s a lot of stuff going on out there, and it can be downright upsetting if the right training isn’t provided from the start. Socializing is necessary for all dogs. Just because you have a small pup, it doesn’t mean that they won’t lash out if they are afraid.
In fact, small dog training is especially important because some tiny breeds experience what’s known as “small dog syndrome”, where they try to act bigger than they really are by jumping up on people, barking, chewing belongings, and generally ignoring your commands. You don’t want things to get to that point.
To make puppy socializing work to its maximum potential, you need to subject your dog to a lot of different sensations and experiences. Some experts recommend the puppy’s rule of 12, which states that you should have your dog experience at least 12 different types of surfaces, play with 12 different objects, meet 12 new people, hear 12 different noises, and so on. That way, you can ensure that your dog can see, feel, and hear as many new things as possible so they will be less afraid when they get out in the real world.
The point is that the socialization process will be different for every dog. Just make sure not to expose them to too many new things at once or it may be overwhelming, and the routine will become that much more difficult.
Socializing When Out and About
To get your pup used to new experiences in the outside world, owners need to get them out of the house. If you are not a social person or you live in an isolated town, then you may want to consider moving and living in a pet-friendly city. Essentially, these are cities where pet ownership is more common and there are fewer restrictions for dogs so they can enter more businesses and go to more places. Living in this type of city encourages pet owners to get out of the house to exercise and meet new people, and when you have these adventures, so will your dog.
When you do show your pup new experiences, you must take baby steps, so they don’t get too overwhelmed. So, instead of bringing your dog to a loud party with lots of people, introduce them to one or two strangers at a time. A good starting place is a public park where you can take your walk and see the occasional person or pet, and both of you can get healthy exercise. Just ensure that your dog is vaccinated, so they don’t get sick or injure others.
If you are having trouble getting out of the house, your pup is still fearful, or you don’t understand the best steps for socializing your dog, remember that you can search online for puppy classes. By signing up for these friendly programs, your dog can learn obedience skills while having the chance to socialize with other pups. These classes should not take the place of your own socialization efforts, but they can be a big help.
Comfort in the Home
While a lot of socialization should involve getting your dog out into the world so they can experience new things, they must be socialized inside your own home as well. If you ever have an unexpected visitor or a party at your house, you will want to know that your dog will behave themselves and stay out of trouble. Sometimes just the act of decorating for a gettogether can make your dog anxious, so if you do have a dinner party, have your pup around while you hang the decorations, set up the lighting, and put out the food so they aren’t startled by a sudden, drastic change.
When you are socializing your dog at home, you want to get your pup used to walking on different surfaces, including carpet, concrete, linoleum, wood, and anything else you have available so they are not startled when they encounter something new. Also, you want to have your dog hear different sounds around the house, such as the dishwasher, hair dryer, and vacuum cleaner. You can also play recorded sounds of thunder or other dogs barking, so they recognize these experiences when they witness them in the real world.
Throughout all of these socializing exercises, remember to keep it positive. When you play new sounds, smile and act happy, so your pup doesn’t see them as a threat. Also, reward them with treats and toys after they have conducted themselves properly during a new experience.
In the end, puppy socialization is the most important step to take when you get your new dog. Show them new things, take it slow, and most importantly, have fun! Once your pup is ready for the outside world, the sky’s the limit to the types of adventures you’ll enjoy together.
About the writer: Indiana Lee is a freelance writer and journalist with a wealth of experience in blogging, content marketing, and journalism.