So you’ve just brought a new puppy home to be part of your family. You may believe that taking care of your new pet is mostly about providing love, a comfortable home and good food. While all of these are essential, something equally essential is puppy socialization.
What is puppy socialization?
Socialization happens between the first 7 – 16 weeks of a puppy being born. The personality that they develop during this time affects how he reacts to different situations when he is older. We’ve all met dogs that seem to be totally out of control… and this is because of poor socialization. To ensure that your puppy grows up to be a well-balanced, well behaved and happy dog, it is vital to socialize him and introduce him to a variety of sights, smells, places and people while he is still young and can learn about appropriate behavior. For example, dog that is well socialized will be friendly with other dogs, is unlikely to be fearful or aggressive to children, and is comfortable riding in a car.
If you live in a big city like Chicago, then it’s even more important to make sure that your dog has the socialization skills it needs. Everything from the traffic and trains to ongoing construction, the L, and regular fireworks in the city are common variables that can impact dogs. They need to learn how to keep calm, stay safe and keep out of harm’s way without being overwhelmed.
How to socialize your puppy
Puppy socialization should be done very gently and not be overwhelming to your new pet.
At first keep it at home – keep your puppy in a safe environment at home, but expose him to different things. For example, different textures such as carpet or grass, inviting friends over, playing different sounds and music on the stereo.
Involve the whole family – all members of the family should be involved to ensure your puppy doesn’t associate his experiences with just one person.
Positive reinforcement – always praise your puppy and reward him with treats when exposing him to new things.
Go out to play – when your puppy is a little older, begin taking him outside of the home, such as to the park or to visit friends for a ‘puppy playdate’. This is a great way to introduce him to other dogs if you do not have any others at home. Doggy daycare is also fantastic for puppy socialization in a safe and nurturing environment.
Puppy training – In addition to providing socialization opportunities, puppy obedience training will help you understand your dog better and ensure that he learns to obey your commands as he grows up. K9 University in Chicago offers puppy day training that is ideal for adult dogs as well as puppies. Many people prefer this option as it provides an economical solution to getting the right coaching for you and your pet.
Is hope lost with older dogs?
If you have a grown dog that has never been socialized properly, it will be more difficult to train him but not impossible. You can follow the same tips as for puppy socialization, but proceed very carefully and with supervision. An extended stay at K9 University’s obedience training Doggy Bootcamp may be the answer for severe cases of very fearful dogs.
For further information on dog training and socialization, obedience training and other services such as doggy daycare and dog grooming, please contact us at K9 University today!