Dear Critter Corner: We are so excited; our family just got our first puppy but we could really use some guidance. We keep hearing about how important it is to socialize him now, but we are not really sure how to do this.
This is such an important part of your puppies up bringing and paves the way for all future encounters. In short socialization is exposing your puppy to anything they may possibly encounter in their life and making sure that these first encounters are positive ones to plant the seed.
Here are some ideas for things that you should be socializing your pup to; people, places, surfaces, objects and other animals. Of course, each one of these categories has many subcategories.
People should include adults of all shapes and sizes, children, babies and the elderly. In addition to the actual person, you will want to expose them to all the different types of clothes or uniforms that come along with each person including any additional equipment such as walkers, canes or wheelchairs.
Places and surfaces are usually different environments, some noisy and some quiet along with this you will have the different types of surfaces such as tile, which may be shinny or reflective, concrete and grass or dirt.
Objects can be many things, but typically will relate to those that you encounter in your day to day life such as garbage cans, lawn furniture or during the holiday lawn decorations, vacuum cleaners, bikes, skateboards, etc.
Animals typically refer to other dogs, but if you have other resident animals, you will want to make sure that you are setting them up for good encounters with one another. With other dogs, it is important that your pup have many encounters with many different dogs. Resident or other close relative dogs don’t typically count as part of the socialization, you want to make sure your dog is exposed to new dogs to build their confidence around others.
An important key piece to remember when socializing, it’s never a one and your done approach and it’s much better to have many short interactions to build on then one long one that ended bad!