Puppy Socialization: Do’s and Dont’s

Puppy ownership is on the rise, even though coronavirus quaratine and social distancing guidelines are creating unique challenges for socializing our new pups. Here are some tips for smart socializing.

Do: Start Young

Prime socialization age is from 8 to 16 weeks. Often, dog owners will avoid taking their puppies out in public because they have not yet been fully vaccinated. However, the lack of proper socializing with people and other dogs can greatly affect your dog’s behavior and temperment later in life. It would seem that the benefits (potential risk of disease) of waiting to socialize outweigh the potential costs (behavioral issues later in life).

Don’t: Use Dog Parks to Socialize

When considering the potential risk of disease transmission, it would seem obvious that dog parks would not be a very safe place to visit. You can never be sure who’s dog is fully vaccinated or healthy. Aside from this, you have no guarentees that other dogs at the park will be friendly, especially to a puppy. Avoid dog parks or meetings with strange dogs.

Do: Visit Friends, Family, Co-workers or Neighbors

Instead of using a dog park to meet new dogs, visit with your friends, family members, co-workers or neighbors. This way you’ll know the dogs’ behavior ahead of time. If you stick with people you already see you will not be risking your own health either.

Don’t: Ignore Social Distancing Guidelines

Use a 6 ft leash when taking your dog out. This is a helpful way for you to measure appropriate distancing. If you have a longer leash, like 10 ft, even better! This way your dog has enough play space and you have enough distance.

Do: Be Calm and Neutral

Be calm when your dog is meeting new people and dogs. You can certainly comfort them if they are scared but let them lead the interaction. Try not to force them to interact. I promise they will come around when given a few seconds to check things out and get comfortable.

Don’t: Use Big Gestures and Loud Nioses

Ask your friends to also be calm and quiet instead of running up to, jumping around or making very loud noises. Something as simple as that can cause your dog to be afraid of that person. Keep calm, quiet and let the puppy come to you!

Do: Remember Objects, Textures, Sounds and Places

Socializing goes beyond people and other dogs. Do remember to help your dog experience different places, objects, sounds or textures (when walking). The more they experiece when they are younger, the more confident they will be when they are older.

Following these guidelines will take you far in having a confident, well adjusted, and social adult dog. One last tip before you go! Remember the treats! Pairing scary moments with yummy treats can get you through tough periods when socializing.

Happy training!

Need help coming up with a socialization or training plan for your puppy? Contact us today!