Socializing your puppy is extremely important and should start early on, as it sets the stage for your dog to feel happy and confident throughout its life. It’s key to start exposing your puppy to new people, places, and situations as soon as you can, and early socialization can begin when you bring your puppy home.
Start at home: Peak socialization is from birth to 16 weeks, so it’s important to begin socializing your puppy right away. Playtime is a great way to start socialization, and it’s also a wonderful way for you and your pup to bond. Try sitting on the floor and cuddle with your puppy or play using his favorite toys. Have a friend or two come over during playtime so your puppy can start meeting new people.
Puppy’s day out: While socialization is important, it’s best to introduce your puppy to new people, places and things gradually. After your dog starts feeling comfortable around new people at home, take him for a walk around the block. Keep the walks close to home and don’t take your pup around large crowds of dogs until he’s fully vaccinated. Once your dog begins to feel more comfortable with daily walks, take him to places that have more people and activity, such as a park. If your dog is on a leash and sitting calmly, invite people to pet him.
Puppyhood and beyond: Socialization never stops – it is an ongoing process that continues throughout your dog’s life. Keep introducing him to new places, sounds, people, environments and other animals so he is confident in all types of environments. You can take your dog to a new dog park or take a different route while walking. Make it a positive experience by using treats and praise to reward him in new situations.
For additional socialization tips, visit the AKC website.