Dog Socialization

Bringing a dog into our homes, especially young puppies can come with a lot of responsibilities. As puppies mature they go through fear impact stages in which they require positive associations with the world around them. As they experience new things it’s very important to remember that the way they encounter things in life can have a big effect on them as adult dogs. Thankfully it is easier than it may seem to help your puppy during this time & we are going to provide you with the tools to take it on.

Fear Impact Stages

What is a fear impact stage? The first fear impact stage occurs when a puppy is 8-11 weeks old(2-3 months).. Everything is brand new to your puppy and this is the phase that can impact how they feel about different objects, situations, people and dogs. It’s very important to introduce things to your puppy in a way that makes it positive for the dog. A second fear impact stage occurs between 6-14 months of age as they shift into maturity. It’s important not to push your dogs into situations that can be stressful but rather introduce things to them at a pace that is comfortable.

What is socialization?

Many think of socialization as dog to dog interaction but it is really so much more than that! Think of things that may be normal to you and I,  but may be scary for dogs. Believe it or not, different types of flooring can be scary for a dog. A dog that has never touched grass before, slippery tile floors, sand, the list goes on. It’s important to not make a big deal about these new things in your dog’s life. The best thing you can do is lead them with confidence and to reward them for conquering a new challenge even if they may not even realize it.

Why Socialize?

A dog that lacks proper socialization can fall short of confidence and this can create behavior problems as an adult dog. Reactivity from fear can occur in a dog that is uncomfortable & pushed beyond their threshold which in turn can develop into a more aggressive behavior. As an adult dog there are things that can be done to still help to build confidence with the understanding that they may not be fully comfortable dealing with certain things. The sooner you start exposing your pup in the right way, the better!

The Perfect Pooch

There is a common misconception that dogs should enjoy every other person and dog that crosses their path. Think about it this way, as a human do we love every single person that we meet? No, few we love, some we like, others we tolerate and some we don’t. We should expect the same from our dogs in that aspect. Ideally you want a dog that can at least tolerate other dogs and people but as dogs mature they can become more selective just as we do. Keep in mind that a selective dog is not a bad dog, they’re actually a lot like ourselves! There are many reasons a dog can dislike people or dogs outside of lacking proper socialization. Older dogs may not appreciate a younger dog’s energy, a smaller dog may not enjoy the way a stranger is towering over them to say hello. It always helps to educate yourself on canine body language as it is the primary form of communication & can help to avoid unfortunate situations.

Let’s Get Social!

Now that you have an understanding for what socialization is all about, how do we begin the process? Thankfully at Pet N Play we are able to aid in the socialization process! In addition to being socialized in a controlled environment with appropriate playmates, your puppy will be exposed to our loving staff, different flooring(K9 turf, carpet, tile, etc) and we also offer puppy grooming experiences! Our fabulous salon staff is great at easing your puppy into the necessary upkeep they will need for the duration of their lives including bathing, brushing, nail cutting & dremeling as well as grooming. However, it is still up to you as their owner to lead them with confidence in their socialization. The best thing you can do is be brave for them when they seem unsure of things in a “no big deal” mindset. The less nervous you are, the less nervous they will be as dogs can truly sense our energy.

Don’t be afraid to bring out some fabulous treats and toys that can ease your puppy’s mind. A great way to gage the comfort of your puppy is how well they are able to take treats during a new exposure. If your dog is unwilling to take treats, they may be beyond their threshold of comfort and you may need to take a few steps back(quite literally) from what is stressing them. Puppies require patience in all aspects of their lives but even more so during their fear impact stages. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from our trainers or even by picking up some puppy books to help you through this process. Most of all, ENJOY watching your puppy take in all the new things they encounter as this is so important for them. Watching their brain work and figure things out is one of the joys of puppyhood! Check out the next page for a checklist of ideas of socialization, YOU’VE GOT THIS!

PEOPLE

  • Women
  • Men
  • Teenagers
  • Infants
  • Toddlers crawling
  • Men with Beards
  • Deep voices
  • Elderly
  • Person with cane, walker, wheelchair
  • Person in umbrella
  • Person in hood
  • Person with gait/limp
  • Bicyclists
  • Joggers
  • Person in hat
  • Person in uniform
  • Tall person

NOISES

  • Trucks
  • Motorcycle
  • Fan or A/C
  • Garbage truck
  • Door bell
  • Gun shots
  • Trains
  • Fireworks
  • Sirens
  • Slamming door
  • Honking
  • Dropped objects
  • Traffic
  • Sweeping
  • Instruments
  • Airplane/helicopter

HANDLING

  • Trucks
  • Ears/ear cleaning
  • Baths
  • Brushing/grooming
  • Restrained
  • Paws/nail clipping
  • Clothing
  • Wearing harness
  • Muzzle
  • Wearing collar /leash
  • Cleaning eyes
  • Teeth/brushing

ANIMALS

  • Small dogs
  • Birds
  • Big dogs
  • Chickens
  • Male dogs
  • Horses
  • Female dogs
  • Cow
  • Older dogs
  • Sheep
  • Cats/kittens
  • Rabbits

ENVIRONMENTS

  • Vet
  • Stairs
  • Grass
  • Bridges
  • Parks
  • Stores
  • Sand
  • Being alone
  • Houses
  • Crowds
  • Carpet
  • Crate
  • Elevators
  • Tile
  • Gravel
  • Car rides
  • Wood floor
  • Puddles/Mud

Keep in mind that this is a generalized list & there may be more or less socialization factors based on your lifestyle. Remember that your dog is the one who decides if an interaction or experience was positive; not you or anyone else. Never force your dog into an interaction & remember to advocate for your dog in situations that may be uncomfortable or uncontrolled. This will create a more confident & loyal dog!

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