You know your furry pal needs plenty of positive exposure to the world around them while they’re young. But, did you know that they also need ongoing socialization to remain comfortable in new situations, such as traveling to new places, meeting unfamiliar pets, and interacting with strangers in your home? Socializing your puppy can be a great lifetime adventure rather than a chore.
With socialization and exercise that provide plenty of physical and mental stimulation, you’ll help prevent many problem puppy behaviors. Most teen-aged dogs are surrendered to animal shelters because they have developed undesirable behaviors, like excessive barking, generalized anxiety, leash reactivity, and fear of other pets and people. So, providing a solid socialization foundation for your puppy is essential. We offer socialization tips that can be continued throughout your puppy’s lifetime.
#1: Sign your puppy up for doggie daycare
If you work an eight-hour day or more, and have a lengthy commute, how much time do you have to exercise and socialize your puppy during the week? Work commitments can make spending the necessary time fostering your puppy’s development a huge challenge, but doggie daycare can fill the gap.
Doggie daycare facilities are more closely monitored than dog parks, making them the ideal place for your puppy to socialize and play with pets with a similar personality. Doggie daycare personnel evaluate each dog to determine their play style and personality, and then sort them into groups that play well together. So, your pup who is a whirlwind of activity will do best with other high-energy dogs, but your puppy who enjoys more laidback companionship will do well with a slower-paced group. Daycare attendants also are trained to read canine body language, so they can intervene during tense situations, to help ensure each pet has a positive experience.
#2: Enroll in a puppy training class
While you likely enrolled your new puppy in a kindergarten class when they were 2 or 3 months old, training classes can be an ongoing source of positive fun activity and socialization. A wide variety of training courses that include everything from basic clicker training to advanced trick training are available. Each class you take with your dog not only builds your relationship, but also provides a focused energy outlet that can diminish problem behaviors.
#3: Try out a canine sport
Joining the wonderful world of canine sports can be a great experience for you and your puppy, although you’ll want to wait until your pup is a bit older. You can lay the groundwork as a puppy with obedience training, and then progress to intense sports, such as agility. Other fun canine sports include:
- Rally obedience
- Dock diving
- Scent work
- Disc dog
- Lure coursing
- Barn hunts
- Field trials
Depending on your dog’s background, they may excel in sports where they dig and hunt, or perform better in herding and chasing events. Try a variety, to see which sports your pup enjoys the most.
#4: Become a therapy dog
If your puppy is calm and friendly, they may make a great therapy dog candidate. Dogs who visit hospitals, nursing homes, and other places with elderly or infirm patients can brighten the residents’ days, and enjoy a wonderful socialization opportunity. First, participate in canine good citizen training, which teaches basic skills to ensure your dog has good manners when interacting with others, and builds an important foundation for additional training.
#5: Visit pet-friendly public places
Once your puppy has been fully vaccinated—usually at around 15 or 16 weeks of age—they can venture out to pet-friendly public places. Enjoying the sunshine at an outdoor cafe or hanging out with friends at a dog-friendly restaurant or bar can be fun, while continuing your puppy’s socialization throughout adulthood. However, monitor your puppy’s comfort level in crowds, since many dogs do not enjoy large, noisy gatherings, such as festivals and fairs. If your dog is calm and interested in their surroundings, continue the experience.
When venturing out with your puppy, keep them in good health and protect them from infectious disease by keeping them up to date on their wellness checks and essential vaccinations. Contact our Tamberly Animal Hospital team to schedule your pet’s appointment.