There are many things you need to do once you have added a new puppy to your family and socialization is one of them! Even the most mild-mannered or eager-to-please puppy can experience a personality change if they are not socialized properly early on. We always tell our new families “we bake a great cake, but you have to ice it!” In today’s blog post, we are going to share our thoughts and suggestions on early socialization for your new family member so they always maintain that adorable personality you fell in love with.
Time is of the Essence
We introduce all of our puppies to various stimuli while they are in our care, but it is up to you as their new parents to continue their social growth. Puppies need to experience new surroundings and scenarios at an early age in order to be confident later in life. The most critical time-frame is between seven and twelve weeks of age. There are obviously many things to consider before carrying your new puppy all around town, however. For example, your puppy will not be fully vaccinated during that stage of their life. We highly encourage families not to take their puppies to areas with high dog traffic until they have received all of their vaccinations. We suggest people get their puppies out and about in places like Lowes, Home Depot or local nursing homes. These venues don’t have heavy dog traffic and allow your puppy to meet new people in short, controlled bursts.
Exercises at Home
There are many exercises you can do at home in order to protect your puppy and continue their social development. Simple things like the acclimating them to the noise of a blow dryer (which is essential to prepare your puppy for grooming later in life) can help them lead happy lives as they grow! Other things you can introduce your puppy to include introducing your puppy to water, cars, picking them up and handling their feet/nails, etc. Think about what you want to do with your puppy when they are an adult and find creative ways to introduce them to associated stimuli.
Be Their Comfort
It is important that you are the strong arm your new puppy can lean on during the socialization phase. You don’t want your socialization methods to traumatize your new four-legged friend accidentally! All socialization practices should be pleasant for your new puppy and remember to take your time. Don’t rush your puppy into uncomfortable situations to meet an end-goal. Let your puppy slowly acclimate to new sights, smells and sounds at their own pace so they are confident in new environments.
One way you can slowly integrate what your puppy might interpret as spooky sounds into their daily life is by playing a desensitizing CD. We use this CD with our puppies while they are in our care and highly recommend it to new puppy owners!
Understanding Body Language
Your puppy cannot tell you when he/she is scared or concerned, but they will send you clear messages through their body language. Be on the alert when socializing your puppy and watch for warning signs that your training may be doing more harm than good. Never force your puppy into something that makes him/her uncomfortable!
Watch your puppy’s tail, ears and eyes for tell-tale signs that they are wary of new situations. A tucked tail, ears folded back, concerned expression and a flight response are all signs of discomfort. If your puppy is afraid of a certain stimulus, allow him/her to come to their own acceptance of that particular scenario, rather than push that scenario on them while they are frightened. Remember, you are your puppies protector and they will view you as such!
Puppy Socialization Checklist
Here are some of the suggested activities we believe are beneficial for you to work on your new puppy with:
- Examine and handle your puppy’s eyes, nose, teeth, feet, skin/coat
- Introduce your puppy to people of all shapes, sizes and appearances (Ex: men with hats on or children)
- When appropriate, introduce them to unfamiliar dogs in a controlled environment.
- Allow your puppy to meet/see other animals such as cats, livestock, birds, etc.
- Expose your puppy to items with wheels such as skateboards or bikes and common household items like flower pots, umbrellas or garbage bags.
- Take your puppy to various environments such as urban neighborhoods, farms and suburban neighborhoods.
There are many different schools of thought regarding socializing your new puppy. When you purchase an Archview puppy we will send you home with all of our tips and tricks that we believe will help your new pup adjust to their new life with you. Check out all of our available puppies here and consider joining the Archview family!