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When you bring a puppy home for the first time, it’s a whole new world for them. Not just a new place but new smells, new noises, new people. This can be a source of great anxiety for your pup, and if not socialized properly, could carry on into adulthood.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, “Socialization is the process of preparing a dog or cat to enjoy interactions and be comfortable with other animals, people, places and activities.” To ensure your puppy grows up to be a happy, confident, well-behaved and well-adjusted dog, socialization is key.
If you’ve recently brought home a new puppy, or are considering getting one, here are a couple tips to help you get started.
Puppies have a “sensitive period” for socialization, which typically spans from 3 to 14 weeks old. For this reason, the first three months of a puppy’s life play a pivotal role in the development of their behavior and personality.
Why the first three months, you ask? Because puppies are more excited by those new places, people, and smells, than scared of them. Exposing them to as much stimuli as possible during this period will help prevent them from feeling scared by it later in life.
When starting your socialization plan, first focus on your pet’s immediate environment: your home. Gradually introduce them to different rooms and areas throughout your household. This will create a safe space, wherein you can introduce other family members and friends, as well as any other pets. As with anything else, be sure to reward your pet for good behavior with lots of belly rubs, back scratches, and positive reinforcement.
Once your pet is well-adjusted in your home (and fully vaccinated), you can safely expose them to new spaces, like the car or even a dog park.
The key to a successful socialization plan for your pet is to take it slow. There’s no need to rush! Take baby steps, and don’t forget to have fun.
Have a question about socializing your puppy? Chat with a member of our vet team!