Puppy socialization is critical to ensure that puppies get quality social experiences. Quality social experience at a young age helps to reduce the potential of fear based problems such as aggression. The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior states in its position statement that “puppies can start socialization classes as early as 7-8 weeks of age”. Untrained puppies tend to loose their homes and are at greater risk of being “put down” as an adult dog due to behavior problems.
During puppy class, your puppy should be introduced to other safe puppies. These need to be puppies that are healthy and not overly rough. It will meet a variety of people men, women, hopefully children and people of different ethnic origin. And it should have the option of checking out new things in the environment. In addition, the training process should begin. In this video you will see owners using a lot of treats as their puppy meets new things. When you take your puppy or dog out for socialization you want to ensure it has a good time. You can do this by rewarding your dog not only for being good but also as it interacts with its environment. As you go about this process, protect your puppy form anything that might be scary. If your puppy wants to move away from something, let it. When the puppy decides it is far enough away, feed your puppy treats and let it check out the “scary monster” from a distance. Over time, your puppy will naturally move closer to get a better look.
At The Well-Mannered Dog, we now have 2 classes that help puppies socialize. One is our group classes in which owners attend and learn along with their puppy. The other is our Puppy play and train camp in which puppies are dropped off and I train the puppies while also socializing them and exercise them so they are tired.