What is it and why is it important for my puppy?
Socialization is the developmental process where puppies learn to communicate and interact with other dogs, humans and their environment. This is one of the most important developmental periods for a puppy because it is when they make long lasting connections with what is safe in their every changing environment and what is scary.
But my puppy seems to be really social already…
Most puppies start out with a happy go lucky view of the world. But as they mature they will go thru stages where things start to become scary and they are uncertain of new experiences. If they are sheltered and not exposed to new experiences in a positive way then they will become fearful and anxious.
Under-socialized dogs are at a great risk of developing behavioral issues stemming from fear - aggression, lashing out at people & dogs, too scared to leave the house, for example.
How to socialize your puppy.
If you want your puppy to grow into an adult dog who loves everybody and enjoys going to new places then take them to new places and to visit new people on a regular basis. Bring treats with so that they associate new people, places and dogs with something positive. If they are fearful of something do not force them to interact with it. From a safe distance offer them treats and praise and as they relax slowly move closer to the object. Puppies can start Puppy Kindergarten as early as 7 weeks. A puppy class is the best way to start your pup off on the right paw.
Training Tip: Socialization at an early age is just as important as vaccines for a puppy. Early socialization and training is the best way to vaccinate your puppy against future behavioral problems.