Best Places to Take Your Puppy For Socialization Purposes
Puppies require loads of socialization!
During puppy hood, there is a small window of opportunity open from the age of four weeks to four months during which socialization should take place. If the puppy comes from a reputable breeder, he or she should have already exposed the puppy to other pets and children of all ages for quite some time. From the day you bring your puppy home, you must continue socializing your puppy without overwhelming it. This is often accomplished by taking your puppy along with you in places.
Best Places to Take Your Puppy for Socialization
Puppies have a lot to explore with their senses but you must be careful in selecting the best places and the right dogs and people to encounter. You do not want to overwhelm your puppy or put him up to fail by exposing him to frightening or stressful situations. Watch your puppy closely for signs of stress such as licking it lips, yawning or turning its head away. Following are some of the best places you should take your puppy for socialization purposes.
• Puppy Classes
A puppy class offers ample opportunities for socialization but in a controlled environment. A dog trainer will help in setting up the best environment for puppies and will also touch basis on some topics that new puppy owners may need help on. The puppy gets to encounter humans and other puppies, but it is not all about playing with the other puppies. Sometimes, a tolerant adult dog is present to teach the puppies which behaviors are acceptable.
• Pet Stores
Most large retail pet stores welcome dogs in their facilities and your puppy may love that place that smells so good and is full of toys! Store clerks will also enjoy seeing your puppy and your puppy may get a nice cookie for sitting nicely. Try to avoid the peak hours of week-ends though when the area is too crowded and noisy. You do not want to overwhelm your puppy and cause her to stress. Go gradually and give lots of praise when your puppy takes initiative to explore its surroundings.Carry your puppy or put him in the cart if his shots have not been completed.
• Veterinarian Offices
Don't take your puppy to the vet only when he must get shots! This will cause your puppy to learn that bad things happen in that office building! Instead, take your puppy there on a frequent basis, just to say hello or to have one of the staff members hand down a cookie. Positive associations with the vet office are a must and should be started early. Carry your puppy if you have not completed his series of booster shots.
If you do not know many children, a school may be the ideal place to allow your puppy to see children of all different ages. Try to avoid though too many children crowding around the puppy and petting at once. You must have control of the situation and have children pet the puppy one at a time. Let the puppy approach and tell the child how to properly pet your puppy. Remember to have your puppy meet babies, toddlers, young children, older children and teen-agers to include them all.
• Puppy Play Dates
Organizing a puppy play date is a great way to have your puppy meet other puppies and interact while socializing. Make sure the puppies do not bully each other. Dogs are social creatures that need to meet specimens of their same species to continue to act social. Many dogs that suffer from inter-dog aggression have become so due to lack of socialization.
• About Dog Parks
Often owners believe dog parks make great places for socialization purposes. Dogs parks are not recommended because your puppy may be susceptible to potentially fatal diseases such as Parvo. Also a dog park may have dogs that are too boisterous for your puppy's energy level and your puppy may feel overwhelmed. Also, many owners do not watch their dogs and accidents are ready to happen. For no reason dog trainers see dog parks as a “a guarantee of future employment!” As a general rule of thumb, puppies should not be taken at the dog park until they are at least 6 months of age.
As seen, there are ample opportunities for your puppy to be socialized. Try to keep visits to this place brief at first, and then gradually work on duration. You also may gradually take your puppy to increasingly more crowded and louder places, such as flea markets and shopping centers that allow dogs, but always watch for signs of stress. With time, your puppy's confidence level should increase and will be more at ease in different places and around different people and pets. Keep in mind that socialization does not end in puppyhood but must be continued for the rest of the dog's life!
For further reading
- Why, When and How to Socialize your Puppy or Dog
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