Social Butterfly

Confident Canine: Early-Socialization Tips for Your Puppy

Exposing your puppy to new people, places and situations early on is important, as it sets the stage in helping your dog feel confident with new experiences throughout his life.  Early socialization can begin as soon as you bring your puppy home.  To help your little canine feel comfortable and self-assured in social situations, the American Kennel Club (AKC®) offers the following tips:

  • Socializing at home: It’s important to begin socializing your puppy right away since the peak socialization period is from birth to 16 weeks.  A good way to start is scheduling a daily playtime at home.  This is a time where you and your puppy can bond.  You can sit on the floor and cuddle with your dog or play with him using his favorite toys.  Invite a friend or two over to play with the puppy. 
  • Puppy’s day out: It’s best to introduce your puppy to new people, places and things gradually.  Once your dog feels comfortable around new people at home, you can try taking him for a walk around the block.  Once your dog begins to feel more comfortable with daily walks, take him to places where there are lots of people and activity such as a local park.  If your dog is on a leash and sitting calmly, invite new people to pet him.  Coordinate a play date with another puppy at a neutral place.
  • Your puppy and children: Be sure to supervise interaction with your puppy and children.  It’s best if children greet and pet your puppy gently, without picking him up.  Children should not touch the puppy when he is eating or chewing on his toy.  Explain to the children that puppies should be handled with care and yelling, running, pulling and taunting may cause the puppy to get scared.
  • Socialization after puppyhood: Socializing is an ongoing process that continues throughout your dog’s life.  Keep introducing your dog to new places, sounds, people, environments and other animals.  You can take your dog to a new dog park or take a different route while walking. Using treats and praise to reward your dog will make it a positive experience for him.