Puppy Socializing 101
Have you joined in on the 2020-2021 Puppy Boom? Congratulations! Between potty training and puppy
proofing your home…to picking out the perfect name for your newest family member, most new pet
owners are unaware of how to properly socialize their puppy. In fact, many have never heard of “puppy
socialization!” So, what exactly is puppy socialization and why should new puppy owners expend energy
into this concept?
What is Puppy Socialization?
Puppy socialization is the act of intentionally exposing your bundle of joy to other people and pets during the critical developmental period of 8-16 weeks of age. What most pet owners don’t realize is that AFTER this critical period ends, the ability to socialize your pet becomes dramatically more difficult and that your puppy is at a higher risk of being fearful, reactive, and even aggressive. I know, it’s hard to even fathom that your sweet little fur ball could ever be aggressive at the age of 3 months! Unfortunately, this is an all-too-common trend that veterinarians see time and time again. In fact, the vast majority of adult dogs with aggression are linked to FEAR and the lack of proper socialization between 8-16 weeks of age.
How Can I Adequately Socialize My Puppy?
It takes a village to adequately socialize your puppy. LITERALLY! You and your family cannot appropriately socialize your puppy by yourself. Socializing requires intentional exposure to NEW people and NEW pets in NEW environments. I highly recommend signing your puppy up for puppy classes! This is a great opportunity to invest in your puppy’s psychological wellbeing, as well as learn a few pointers on basic obedience. I promise you will not regret the time and monetary investment into the psychological health of your puppy!
What If My Puppy Is Already Fearful?
It is common that a new puppy may be timid for the first several days after joining your family. Their life has suddenly changed from romping with their siblings to joining a new family. After 1 week, if your puppy is still struggling to acclimate to the new environment, there may be concern that your puppy is naturally more fearful. This is a big warning sign that you will need to invest more time and energy into socializing to help curb their natural tendency to be timid and fearful.
Nurturing your own human-animal bond takes A LOT of love and dedication to the physical health and psychological wellbeing of your puppy. I promise that the time and energy investment you make toward your puppy’s socialization will provide you with years of loving memories that will last a life time!
Carrie Vigeant D.V.M., mother of 3 boys, entrepreneur, wife, and foodie.