When attempting to raise a well-behaved dog, socialization should always be one of the first considerations. As a new pet parent, it is your sole responsibility to help your puppy be comfortable in a world with different types of people, surrounding, establishments, visual elements, scents, and not to mention, other animals and dogs.
Knowing what awaits your puppy in the outside world, puppy socialization is by no means an easy feat. There are many factors to be considered, but it can be done efficiently!
In today's feature, we will explore how you can effectively train your puppy for socialization and some of the things you will want to think about before and after training.
Let's get started.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SOCIALIZATION
When your dog is aware that the world around them can be a safe and enjoyable place, life becomes much easier for both pet and pet owner. When your puppy is 7 to 16 weeks old, you can start working on your puppy's socialization training skills, as this is a critical time in your pup's learning journey.
Since dogs tend to grow accustomed to everyday things that they encounter in their daily environment, socialization can start as soon as 7 weeks. When a puppy is introduced to a new person, situation, or place in a positive way, the chances that your dog will be able to remain calm, receptive, and highly capable of adjusting to new scenarios and setups without having to resort to aggression throughout its lifetime, will increase.
Trained puppies also tend to be more comfortable within a variety of situations. They can be must easier to command and co-exist with, especially if you're planning on having your dog live indoors mostly with you and your family.
Behavioral problems can also occur among puppies who have little to no access to socialization training. If socialization has not begun in those early formative weeks, there may be lasting effects and unwanted results.
Excessive fear, reactivity, anxiety, hyperactivity, excessive barking, aggression, and poor manners are some of the unwanted results of no socialization.
Puppies that have undergone socialization training tend to be less noisy, less stressed in new situations, and easier to interact with.
PUPPY SOCIALIZATION 101
External energy can also be a massive component in a dog's ability to be socially trained, which leads to another critical benefit of puppy socialization: the safety and comfort of those around you. Dogs are active animals, and their excitement often translates into boundless energy. During puppyhood, puppies continuously require physical and mental stimulation, which means you're going to spend a lot of time outdoors with your pup, whether on walks or in public spaces such as parks playing fetch or tug. Making this a routine part of your day will help your pup relieve a lot of their energy, which will help them focus better when it's time to socialize. While taking daily walks around your neighborhood or trips to the park helps relieve energy, it also helps expose your pup to new smells, visuals, and environments. You can use these moments to teach your puppy the correct ways to socialize and instill in them that they do not need to be frightened in new environments.
While it's important to expose your pet to new environments, it's crucial that you take your time and gradually do it. Some new environments with a ton of stimuli can overwhelm your dog. So be sure to slowly get them accustomed to new places and situations that are outside of their comfort zones.
In general, you should always supervise your pet's reaction to new experiences and be mindful of stepping in and reassuring him whenever you start to notice him feeling uncomfortable by pacing or whining. If the fear remains after several attempts to calm your pup, then slow down and introduce the new experience more gradually. Don't forget that socialization is a part of your dog's regular training. It's always a good idea to incorporate any form of a reward system, so your puppy feels a sense of positive reinforcement when navigating new social situations.
It's also important to remember to try and keep strangers at bay when they attempt to pet your dog, especially if you have a puppy. Since it can be hard to resist a cute, little puppy, some strangers may just start petting your dog without even asking. This may be okay if it's just one or two people, especially when showing your puppy it's okay not to be scared or frightened by new people. However, if a large group starts to gather around your puppy, this can quickly become scary and overwhelming for a puppy. So be sure to pay attention to the number of people and they way your dog is reacting. If he seems nervous or scared, let him know it's ok and pick him up to remove him from being pet.
It also helps to be aware of your dog's experiences (or lack of experience thereof) and keep monitoring them over time to control how your dog should ideally react. You must also remember that puppy socialization should be a fun and positive experience for your pet.
If you're the type of pet parent who walks to take socialization training to the next level, then you may want to consider dog classes. A good, structured class will offer a supervised and functional environment for your puppy. Group training classes also provide a safe environment for your dog to interact with others, under the supervision of both owners and the training professional.
As always, socializing your puppy is a very important part of training your puppy. Having a socialized puppy that knows how to interact and act in new situations will make yours and your pup's life much easier and less stressful.
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