‘Tis the season of new puppies coming home! Over the past 13 years I have been lucky enough to work with many pups as they are welcomed into their new homes. Lots of clients call asking for help with potty training, play biting and the basics. While these are all very important in having a well-behaved companion later in life, an even more important training area is often overlooked – socialization.
I’ve not only seen the cute, wiggly, happy puppies over the years, but also the serious problems that occur later in life with dogs who are not properly socialized while they are developing. Between the aggression, reactivity and fears I’ve worked with in my client’s dogs, and rescuing two of my own who were severely undersocialized early in life, I know just how important socialization is for pups.
When you bring your puppy home (yes, even before all their shots!) it is imperative to get them socialized with new things (think bikes, cars, kids, other pets, and humans of all shapes, sizes and ages). Your vet will guide you on when it is safe to bring your puppy out in the world, but in the meantime you can bring the world to him in the form of visits from friends and family and their healthy, vaccinated dogs. Have newcomers greet your puppy with a favorite treat or toy, and if you encounter something she finds “scary” stop and give her time to check it out (tossing treats near the object helps too)!