Puppy socialization and training is very important; in fact, it’s crucial. A well-trained and socialized puppy makes for a well-trained and socialized adult dog. First off, get motivated. It’s going to take some work on your part to properly socialize and train your new puppy, but it’ll be worth it.
Puppy Socialization Period
Since a puppy’s development begins soon as they are born, sourcing your puppy from a reputable breeder who handles and cares for them well will increase your chances of a well-socialized puppy.
Puppies grow up fast. The first three to twelve weeks of a puppy’s life is when most of their development is happening and is the critical window for puppy socialization and training. What you do during the puppy socialization period will have the greatest impact on their personality and temperament for the rest of their life.
Your top priority during this period is to teach them about the world--you need to expose them to as many different people, dogs and environments as possible. This is the socialization process and is critical for producing a dog that is confident and happy rather than fearful or aggressive.
What you’re trying to avoid with puppy socialization
Ultimately, properly socializing your puppy helps you avoid having a dog that exhibits undesirable behavior such as:
- Fear of riding in the car
- Fear of children and strangers
- Poor manners
- Fearful, cowardly, skittish
- Aggressive towards you and others
- Excessive barking and chewing
Puppy Socialization and Training Tips
Puppy socialization and training is slightly different than dog training or dog socialization. Since puppies are babies, they have different needs than adult dogs do. The biggest difference will be in your patience and assertiveness. Since puppies know next-to-nothing and may come off as slow, stupid or just not getting it, they may bring you to the brink of your patience. But don’t worry--this process is good for you, too!
Ignore unwanted behavior
Compared to dogs, puppies are primarily attention-seeking and are not able to differentiate good attention from bad attention. So while you can reprimand a dog to get them to stop behaving badly, your puppy simply won’t understand the reprimand and may actually be happy because they are getting attention from you. Though it may be difficult, it is best to ignore unwanted behavior. If your puppy is chewing on something they shouldn’t be, give them absolutely zero attention for the behavior. Instead, say a firm, “no,” and replace what they are chewing on with something that is OK to chew on. Then give your puppy lots of praise for chewing on the good toy. We’re starting from ground zero here and your puppy is just now learning what is OK and not OK to chew on.
Use positive reinforcement
No yelling or hitting your puppy--ever! That’s just mean. You need to adopt a loving, parental attitude with your puppy. This will serve you well with your adult dog, too.
Use a high-quality treat that supports puppy health and also helps to calm them down. It’s kind of like bribery, but that’s OK, whatever works.
Do you remember how many times you had to stumble through words and sentences before you were able to read a book? You may not remember, but it took years. Luckily, puppy development is much quicker than humans so you’re not locked into the job for really more than a year. Be grateful of the fact and just be sure to put in consistent effort. The more you invest time and energy into your puppy’s development, the better off they’ll be!
Puppy socialization classes
As soon as your puppy is fully vaccinated, it’s time to take them to school. Puppy socialization and training classes are one of the best places to meet other puppies--you know, like daycare. Under the guidance of a trainer, you can safely introduce your puppy to other dogs, humans and puppies and best learn how to protect and ensure your puppy has positive experiences.
Take them out
A new puppy is a commitment and will become a priority in your life. So schedule frequent dates! Introduce them to as many new sights and smells as possible, and as frequently as possible. While protecting them from harm, expose them to all sorts of weather, textures, sounds, people, etc. The more exposure the better. And always be happy about it--make each experience positive. This is instilling a sense of confidence and familiarity in them so they won’t grow up to be a fearful and skittish dog. You’re also actively building your all-important relationship with them that will result in a lifelong loyal companion.
Puppy socialization is a process that can be draining. But while owning a puppy is a great responsibility, it’s nice to know you have control over the dog they will become.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Information contained or made available through the ColoradoDog website is not intended to constitute or substitute for legal advice or veterinary advice.