Socializing A Puppy

As you probably know, socializing a puppy is the best way to help a dog become confident and well-adjusted to a variety of situations and surroundings.

The best time to begin this process is as soon as the breeder lets you take your puppy home, which usually occurs around seven-nine weeks of age.

Even though the socialization process will generally be started by the breeder before he leaves his pack.

Without the opportunity to explore many aspects of everyday life, your dog may grow up to be fearful of new situations, people and other dogs and/or possibly aggressive toward them.

Introducing your dog to the world around him - also referred to as socializing your puppy - is a necessary and very worthwhile process to ensure he develops into a happy and secure adult dog.

When Socializing A Puppy Begins

There are several ways to make sure your dog gets well-socialized, but the main thing to remember is to start early.

In actuality, socialization should begin while the pup is still in the litter - learning his place in the pack and being exposed to the varieties of day to day life.

Though this ends when he leaves his litter mates, it should continue to unfold when he joins you and his "human" pack.

So a good way to begin socializing a puppy once you bring him home, is to teach him that you are now the leader of the pack.

Let him start by following you around the house or teaching him the "come" command when you have walked away. Don't forget to praise him as he makes progress, as this will start to build his confidence.

Do this routinely until your puppy seems secure and your alpha position is established.

Socializing Your Puppy With People

From this point you can move on to social introductions. Invite friends to visit and set up approachable low-key situations where your pup will become curious enough to want to get involved.

Don't force interaction, just let it happen casually and naturally.

When you introduce your puppy to people, try to include as many of the differences between people such as:

  • both large and small, tall and short
  • children as well as adults
  • seniors
  • males, females
  • people wearing hoodies, hats, uniforms, costumes
  • as well as any friendly strangers you may meet out on a walk - perhaps even walking their own friendly dog.

Unusual Sights And Sounds

Strangely, one of my dogs had a real aversion to people wearing hats even on someone he had previously befriended.  Another, would not walk over manholes - ever!

Taking your dog out for walks is ideal for gradually meeting all kinds of people while starting the leash training process.

It will also give him the opportunity to experience new situations as well as a variety of sights, sounds and scents - all the while secure in your leadership and guidance.

puppy watching a drone

Puppy Paws Won't Always Be Walking On Grass

As part of socializing a puppy, try to include outings that introduce your puppy to different sights, sounds, terrains and surfaces such:

  • cement
  • sand
  • wood
  • gravel
  • metal etc. (manholes if you read my earlier comment)

and noises such as:

  • Sirens
  • Noisy traffic
  • Helicopters
  • Car horns

You never know what may make him afraid, so look for opportunities to guide him whenever he seems cautious or fearful about new things he encounters.

But don't try to soothe him in these situations by saying it's okay, it's okay, or he might confuse this with praise for being afraid.

puppy in a car

Preparation For Car Trips, Vet Visits, And More

Another aspect of puppy socialization is accustoming your pup to human contact for necessary tasks.

As part of your daily routine, give your dog some hands on grooming attention. A gentle brushing, along with an overall inspection of his paws, ears, eyes and nails, will help him get used to being touched when he needs goes for his first professional grooming.

It will later have the added benefit of him being less fearful when he needs to visit the veterinarian.

To further expand your pet's experience with the world, enroll your dog in puppy school. The timing of this can usually occur around eight to ten weeks. (After necessary vaccinations are completed)

Puppy school will expose him not only to other humans and dogs, but will begin the process of structuring his behavior, under safe, experienced supervision.

In addition to puppy school, some vets and training facilities offer puppy parties for the ongoing purpose of socializing your puppy.

group of puppies


Parting advice: Don't overlook the importance of puppy socialization - it is the key to shaping the kind of dog he will grow up to be. And remember to get started during the early weeks of your pup's life to have the most and best impact.

I'm sure there will be many occasions or events in your life that will be good times for socializing your puppy, but go slowly to avoid undue stress while building dog's confidence in the world.

Puppy Related Pages

  1. Home
  2. Dog Training
  3. Socializing A Puppy

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