You may think that puppy socialization happens naturally as your pet spends time with you and your family, but it’s a more involved process than that. Puppy socialization takes place in the first 16 weeks of life, and these weeks shape the type of dog that the puppy will grow into. Puppies that are not properly socialized may end up being fear biters, having aggressive tendencies and not getting along with other dogs or children.
During the socialization period, your puppy will build his temperament, character and behavior that will follow him through adulthood and affect how he reacts to humans, animals and the environment he lives in. There are two types of puppy socialization: active and passive. In active socialization, you’re intentionally introducing your puppy to certain stimuli such as visitors and other pets. In passive socialization, your puppy will experience his own environment by exploring the home or backyard.
Much of the puppy socialization process will happen during your normal training routine. House training and crate training are examples of how your pet will learn to trust you and learn what’s expected of her. You’ll also be building your own bond during this time, so be sure to spend a lot of time with your puppy by stroking her and touching her belly. Invite others to do the same so that your puppy learns to trust humans.
Teaching your puppy basic commands such as “sit” and “stay” will also help in socialization, as your pup will be learning etiquette. Get your puppy involved in your daily routine by bringing him with you from one room to the other and letting him sleep in his crate in your bedroom. Since this is his new home, you’ll want him to become familiar with everyday sounds such as the washing machine and vacuum cleaner. Take your pet with you on errands as well, providing they are dog-friendly places. Remember that introducing your puppy to as many people as possible is the best way to encourage socialization.
While you want to socialize your puppy and give her as much free reign as possible to explore, you also need to have good judgment as to what’s safe and what’s not. These early weeks also make up the fear impact period, as something traumatic that occurs in this time frame can scar your pet for life. Avoid dog parks where all the dogs run off their leashes for example, as you can’t be sure which have good temperaments. Also make sure that you keep up with your pup’s vaccinations as you take her more places and introduce her to more people.