The holiday season is a popular time to add a new puppy to the family. Whether you’ve added one yourself, know someone who has, or plan on adopting one in the future, it’s good to understand the importance of puppy socialization.
Why is it important?
Socializing your puppy during the first three months of life is the key to ensuring you’ll have a safer, happier, and confident dog, which makes a more enjoyable pet for you! This period of time shapes his or her personality and behavior as an adult. Optimal exposure is before 16 weeks of age, particularly from 3-12 weeks.
Puppy socialization is about creating positive experiences during the most crucial period of development when dogs are learning to relate to other dogs, humans, and their environment. Poor socialization can lead to long-term behavior problems including fear and aggression. It’s important to gently introduce and acclimate puppies to the new sights, sounds, and smells in the world around them. Exposing them to a wide variety of people, places, and experiences makes a permanent difference in their temperament and behavior.
The challenge is that puppies are typically not fully vaccinated until about 16 weeks. That means there’s a period of time where although socialization is crucial, it can be risky when your dog is not fully protected against disease. While taking your dog to daycare or a dog park is not the safest option when they aren’t fully vaccinated, there are great alternatives. Some ideas:
- Carry your pup or use a stroller to take your dog through town
- Host an event in your home to expose your pup to all different kinds of people and ages
- Bring your dog with you on a car ride
- Visit a store that allow dogs and put the puppy in a cart
- Visit friends with or without dogs. Make sure the other dogs are healthy & fully vaccinated
- Bring your dog to work with you if it’s a pet-friendly job
- Arrange puppy play dates with others you know
Having a plan to socialize your puppy and sticking to it is the best thing you can do for you, your dog, and your family! And don’t forget – once your puppy is fully vaccinated, the socialization and learning continues in daycare at Pampered Pets Inn!