Socialization 

Socialization

Too many dogs suffer from the terminal illness of under socialization…

As a trainer I often meet confused dog owner’s stating that they thought they did everything right socializing their young puppy.  Often times it comes down to three major socialization misunderstandings which are stopping to early, believing that socializing with the other dog in the home or a select 3-4 dogs or people is enough and incorrectly socializing your puppy.


Many owners are under the impression that socialization begins and ends with puppy class and while puppy class is a fabulous way to develop manners, healthy bite inhibition, and get wonderful feedback on your puppy’s socialization status socialization should begin before 8 weeks and continue until at least 8 months of age.   Giant breeds that emotionally develop slower should ideally be socialized even longer.  Socialization should begin at the breeder’s where they are introduced to sounds, smells and people who carefully handle the puppy and help it become prepared for the new home.  Good breeders will be able to explain their socialization protocols and will likely encourage you to continue with their plan for socialization.  Once home and before puppy class begins your puppy should have lots of new visitors especially children and men. 

Hosting a puppy party or a game night is a great way to increase the number of positive experiences your dog has with people.  This is practically true if there are not children in the home. 

The next step is puppy classes.  Good puppy classes are done in clean indoor facilities that are regularly sanitized and have vaccinated dogs and puppies.  Trainers in puppy classes can quickly spot gaps in socialization giving you early indication if you need to focus on additional socialization, plus puppies will learn how to be gentle with humans and other puppies.  This is also a great time for

After completion of vaccinating your puppy trips to dog friendly retail stores like murdoch’s, jax’s, playgrounds and drop-in classes at least twice a week will help ensure that your continues to maintain or improve his socialization while his personality continues to develop into adolescents.


Another comment I frequently hear is “My dog was well socialized; she had plenty of opportunity to play with the other dog in the home and spends a lot much of the day with our family.”  That isn’t socializing.  It’s just not, I’m sorry, I wish it were that easy, but your dog has to have an opportunity to meet at least 20 new people a week.  Your dog should regularly be allowed to have positive interactions with men and children whom your dog is not familiar with and if you have a breed that can be aloof then you should double the number of people your dog meets.


Bad socializing is often the result of very well meaning dog owners.  Socialization isn’t all about exposing your dog to as many new things as possible or exposing your dog to as many new people as possible it  must be done in a methodically and practical way.  If your dog is hiding under a chair in puppy class you are creating issues NOT preventing them.   When socializing your puppy be sure to look at it from your puppy’s point of view…. receiving treats from a 7 year old girl creates a positive association ensuring that your puppy will look forward to the next time he meets her while being sat on by a 7 year old girl may result in a attempt to avoid the 7 year old girl.  Meeting a and greeting a large friendly adult dog may result in learning proper manners  while being snapped at or stepped on by a large adult dog may create a fear which may later turn into defensive aggression. 

Consider the quality of all socialization opportunities and closely watch to see how your puppy responds to each.  If you are putting the time into socialization quality of the socialization matters and it MUST be positive.


Keep up the socializing and feel  free to come watch our classes visitors and prospective puppy buyers are always encouraged to come watch.

To learn more about how to properly socialize:click here

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