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Healthy Dogs

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Socializing a New Puppy

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How Does a Puppy Need to Be Socialized?

Socialization is a big project. It requires exposure to the types of people, animals, places, sounds and experiences that you expect your dog to be comfortable in later in life. Depending on the lifestyle you have planned for your dog, this might include the sight and sound of trains, garbage trucks, schoolyards of screaming children, crowds, cats, livestock or crying infants. While it’s impossible to expose a young puppy to absolutely everything he will ever encounter in life, the more bases that you cover during the peak socialization period of 3 to 12 weeks, the more likely the puppy will be able to generalize from his prior experiences and find something reassuringly familiar in a new situation. For any pet dog, it’s essential to get him used to the common types of people, dogs, sights, sounds and physical handling and grooming that will be a sure part of his daily life.

Do I Need to Do Anything Special When I Socialize My Puppy?

Yes! You need to make sure that the situation is not overwhelming for him, and that he becomes more comfortable-not more worried-each time you expose him to something. For instance, maybe you’ve planned a puppy party where a group of people will gather to help you socialize your puppy right at home. But some puppies can be overwhelmed by meeting a bunch of strangers all at once. Even though your intentions are good, if your puppy is cowering in the corner at his own party, then he’s not learning anything good about strangers! The rule of thumb with puppy socialization is to keep a close eye on your puppy’s reaction to whatever you expose him to so that you can tone things down if your pup seems at all frightened. Always follow up a socialization experience with praise, petting, a fun game or a special treat.

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