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What Is Puppy Socialization and Why Is It So Important?

Puppy Socialization Classes

Wondering what the most friendly, calm and well-behaved kind of dog is? A happy, well-socialized one or What is Puppy Socialization? 

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You only get one chance to get your puppy off to a great start. And they not only need it, they deserve it. With the right training to socialize them, you’ll have the best dog ever. But of course…like anything else…you have to put in the work. 

What Exactly is Puppy Socialization?

Just like people, puppies need to learn good manners in lots of different situations. In order to be relaxed, well-functioning members of society. We’ve all met the most loveable pups that are a joy to be around. On the flip side, you’ve likely experienced the challenges of a fearful, aggressive, or just plain out-of-control dog—the ones even the most die-hard dog lover will avoid.

Dogs aren’t born with the skills needed to take on the world, they have to be exposed to new experiences and intentionally socialized.

Fortunately, proper socialization will expose, de-sensitize and train your puppy. To help them develop the proper skills and behaviors to not only manage any situation, but thrive.

Why is Socialization So Important for a Puppy?

All dogs, and especially puppies, need to understand what it means to be in different social environments. “Dogs aren’t born with the skills needed to take on the world. They have to be exposed to new experiences and intentionally socialized,” explains Samantha Hillmer, systems and communications manager at pet facility Canine to Five in Detroit, Michigan. “That’s why we developed the Puppy Program, to safely introduce your four-legged friend to other dogs, new people, different surfaces, smells, and experiences that will build their confidence and help you raise a happy, healthy, and friendly dog.” 

When Should Socialization Start?

There is really no truth to the phrase, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” It is true, however, that laying a good foundation for a puppy will last them a lifetime. Just like infants, our fur babies go through different stages of development, with optimal times for learning different skills. 

The best time to bring a puppy home is at 7-8 weeks of age. After initial socialization with their mom and littermates. Now time is of the essence to begin high-quality human interactions. That is to create a self-confident, well-behaved puppy that is strongly bonded to you. It’s also a key time to prevent yappy, shy or aggressive behaviors, and avoid “bad” or scary experiences during the “fear-impact period,” around 8-11 weeks.

Create a Bond with Your Puppy

When it comes to socializing, the most important connection for your puppy is with you. First and foremost, you want to bond with your pup to emphasize trust, create a strong relationship and establish communication. This bond means your pup will look to you for guidance and clues they are safe, to feel comfortable in any situation.

Where to Socialize a Pup

Every effort should be made to introduce your puppy to as many new people, places, animals and experiences as possible. Of course, right now “exposure” also comes with additional risks for both you and your pup.

A general rule of thumb is to introduce your pup to 150 new people and 60 different places by 6 months of age, but it’s really more about quality than quantity. This means actively taking your pup with you in the car, exposing them to different types of people, animals and places when and where it is safe to do so. Help your pup stay calm by holding them, praising, using a soft voice and giving treats during each new experience. 

Be sure your puppy is up-to-date on vaccinations before you enroll in Puppy Socialization Classes—still one of the best ways to socialize with other dogs and puppies. Many pet care facilities are offering training classes as a way to maximize fun and safe socialization while minimizing the risk of unknown animals or humans. Be sure you are following COVID-19 guidelines in your community to minimize the risks for your and your pet. Safety is paramount, so as always, make informed decisions.

Without a doubt, this is the most important time in the life of a puppy and the most enjoyable part of being a new pet owner. Make the most of it and you’ll both live happily…and sociably ever after.

Contact Canine to Five, if you’re looking for Puppy Socialization Classes in Michigan.

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