So, you adopted a new puppy and now what??!! There are some important things you need to know about socializing your new puppy so that he/she will grow up to be a healthy, happy and well-adjusted dog. First of all, don’t take your puppy to ANY public place until they have ALL of their vaccines. This includes 3 rounds of DA2PP, Rabies and Bordetella. These diseases can be found in the environment and may be deadly to your new puppy.
After your puppy is fully vaccinated, you need to introduce your puppy to all kinds of new experiences and environments. A puppy’s brain is just developing and every experience, good or bad will have an impact on the rest of their life. Proper socialization will prevent fear based behavioral issues which can make life difficult for you and your dog. Never use a prong, choke or shock collar on your puppy. These will only instill fear in your puppy and cause a lifetime of fear based issues.
Make sure your puppy meets all different kinds of people and has good experiences. Bring treats with you that you can give to people to give to your puppy. This way your puppy will associate new people with good and happy feelings!! Make sure they meet kids, older people, short people, tall people, skinny people, big people, people wearing hats, people wearing sunglasses, people with beards, and people of all races and colors, women and men. Give your puppy lots of praise when they meet the new people. The park during a kid’s football or soccer game is a great place to get your puppy lots of attention!! You can also take them to places that allow dogs like PetSmart, Lowes, and the Castle Rock Outlet Mall. Some local breweries (105W Brewing) allow dogs as well. Make these outings fun and happy experiences for your new puppy and show them that the world is full of love!!! The people that you meet will love meeting your new puppy also!!
It is also important that your puppy meets lots of friendly dogs and learns how to properly interact with them. If you have friends with friendly dogs, make doggie play dates and go on walks together. Puppy socialization class is a great way to both socialize your puppy and let your puppy learn some basic training. Dogs parks can be great places to let your puppy learn important social behavior, however use caution as sometimes there may be unfriendly dogs there. If you do encounter a dog who is showing signs of aggression (not play) and compromising the safety of your puppy, leave the dog park. The difference between play and aggression is sometimes hard to tell so research signs of both.
Doggy day care is also a great place for your puppy to learn how to interact with many dogs at once. Let your puppy explore different environments, walk on different surfaces and take the stairs!! Walk them over metal grates, wood bridges, concrete stairs, and other areas that may be ‘scary’ for a dog who has not experienced them before. Make all these experiences positive and make sure to give lots of praise and treats especially if your puppy does something that seems scary to them!! Each new positive experience will help your puppy gain confidence and understand their surroundings.
The time and effort that you devote to properly socializing your new puppy will provide you and your puppy with a lifetime of healthy and happy relationships with each other and the world!!