Throughout life, your puppy will meet a lot of different people, and you’ll want him to be well-socialized and comfortable around everyone he meets. According to the Humane Society of the United States, puppies learn many of their social skills between 4 and 12 weeks of age, so let’s look at some of the best ways to maximize this timeframe and help your puppy become a well-socialized dog:
It’s a great big world out there and it’s all new to your puppy. Consider this: your puppy has never seen many of the things that we take for granted—bicycles, shopping carts, elevators—and has yet to be exposed to many of the situations that he will experience throughout his life. Create a checklist of people, places, and things that you’d like to see and do with your puppy, and work your way through the list until you and your puppy have met your goals.
In addition to situations outside the home, there are plenty of opportunities for your puppy to develop social skills right at home. Prepare your puppy for the future by acquainting him with common household objects, such as vacuum cleaners, hair dryers, umbrellas and other potentially “scary” items. According to the Humane Society of the United States, many puppies go through a “fear” period at the age of eight to 10 weeks, so it’s particularly important to provide plenty of positive reinforcement during this period.
Your puppy loves you and would recognize you anywhere, but it’s also important to introduce him to lots of other people as well. If not properly socialized at a young age, puppies may develop unexpected fears of certain people, such as children, babies, men with beards, or people in wheelchairs. It’s important to introduce your puppy to people with loud voices, people with quiet voices, people who wear glasses and people in uniforms.
Puppy classes are an excellent way to begin a puppy’s formal education, as well as a way to introduce your puppy to other dogs and people. Your puppy should have had its first set of puppy vaccines at least 2 weeks before joining a class, and the dog training location of your choice should ask for your puppy’s proof of vaccinations before you join. That way you know the risk of a potential illness is reduced as all puppies attending have had at least their first set of vaccines.
By taking the time to thoroughly socialize your puppy at a young age, you’ll minimize potential behavioral problems that could develop later on in life. Your puppy will thank you for it!