Kylie Campbell, KPA-CTP of Art of Behavior

Below you’ll find some tips and tricks to make socializing your new puppy fun and easy.

Why Do I Need to Socialize My Puppy?

“I get along with dogs better than people!” Sound familiar? Dogs are highly social and emotionally complex animals, so it’s no wonder many of us feel like our dog is our best friend. If you want your puppy to grow up well-adjusted, start working on their social skills as soon as you can. 

Proper socialization helps puppies become acclimated to things they might otherwise fear. This includes children, new people, other animals, vacuum cleaners, umbrellas, unfamiliar textures, loud noises, and more. 

Proper socialization helps ensure that your puppy will grow up confident and be a well-mannered, happy companion.

When Should I Socialize My Puppy?

Puppies begin to develop social skills as young as three weeks old. Because they start developing at such a young age, if you’re buying a dog, socialization should start with the breeder. The breeder can positively affect a puppy’s future with gentle handling. Puppies should also meet new people and animals. Socialization practice should continue until puppies reach around 4 months old.

How Do I Socialize My Puppy?

Take your puppy out to meet a variety of people—especially people who look different from his or her humans at home. Beards, glasses, and hats are all accessories that can frighten a puppy. With your help, you can show them there’s nothing to worry about. Bonus: A drive to the park will help get them used to car rides.

Noisy household objects can also make your home a house of horrors for your pup. First up: the dreaded vacuum. Start by leaving the vacuum out in plain sight. After a while, pretend to vacuum so they can get used to the movement. Finally, turn the vacuum on so they can adjust to the noise.

It is just as important to get them used to being handled for routine grooming and veterinary care. Hold their paws when you are both relaxing, play with their ears, and get them used to the sound and feel of clippers. 

Treats, Treats, and More Treats!

Positive reinforcement is key. Reward your puppy for good behavior! 

When they meet new people, experience new activities, and come into contact with scary new things, reward them for being brave. Soon enough, they will not need treats to feel comfortable in a new environment or situation.

Reward them with small training treats or semi-moist treats broken into smaller pieces. Remember, we want to reward them, but we do not want to feed them too much. Keeping them at a healthy weight will ensure they have a lot of energy to play with new friends.