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How to Socialize Your Dog

Dogs are inherently social animals. Still, good social skills are mostly learned. As a pet parent you can give your new friend a lifetime of good relationships with a little affection, some patience and a dedicated commitment to continued socialization. Like most behaviors, what dogs learn at a young age tends to stick with them, so setting a good routine is essential. Take note of these tips and you’ll be on your way.

At home

Welcome
Getting to know a new place is tough for anyone and puppies are no different. They will be curious about just about everything and everyone. Polite interaction is a good start, but don’t expect too much from your puppy for the first few days. Adapting to a new environment is exhausting!

Staking claim
It is natural for puppies to want to find some territory of their very own. Furniture, toys, even people can be claimed. Territorial growling over food or toys is a behavior that is important to discourage. If your puppy is being territorial over food, try hand feeding them until they understand that the food is yours and you are allowing them to have it. Puppies want you to be in charge. After all, you are their pet parent.

Teething and chewing
Teething is a natural part of a puppy’s development. What is not natural is for them to turn your hand into a chew toy. If your hand, ankle, shoe or possession is being teethed-on, firmly say, "no" and replace it with an acceptable chew toy. Praise this new option and remember that replacement is a good positive training method for your pup.

Making new friends

How to introduce dogs to each other
Meeting another dog for the first time can either be very confrontational or a total joy. It’s all about creating a positive situation. Ideally the two dogs should meet on neutral ground like a park or sidewalk. This minimizes territorial instincts. Next watch for body language. Any growling or showing of teeth and the dogs should be separated. Tails should be wagging — not down or between their legs.

How to introduce a puppy to a baby
Introducing puppies and babies can be tricky business. Introduce the baby when you feel comfortable and confident. Hold the infant near the puppy so the baby can be seen and sniffed. Allow your puppy inside the nursery when there is supervision. A baby can bring an added level of stress to the puppy’s life with all kinds of new sounds and smells. The puppy may wonder why this tiny creature could possibly receive more attention. Never fear, after two to four weeks your pup should become comfortable with the situation. If not, consult a professional trainer.

Puppies and children
Even extremely well-mannered dogs can get a little nervous or act out around children. Why? Well, children are just as energetic as a puppy and tend to get a little rambunctious. Puppies can misread this energy as aggression and get defensive. It’s best when children are polite to dogs, never teasing physically or verbally. Small children should not attempt to pickup or carry your puppy. This could lead to double injuries. With these ground rules, children and puppies can get along famously. From learning simple commands to learning the responsibility of having a puppy, both pets and children can learn from each other.

"To keep your dog calm when meeting new people, make sure to have treats, toys or something they find rewarding. As long as they stay and keep all paws on the floor, they get rewarded with the attention of you, the other person and treats."

Classes are the best way for your puppy to learn
Puppy and Basic Canine Education Classes are available at your local Petco. All new puppies should attend a Canine Education Class to learn good behaviors and healthy habits that last a lifetime. Early learning is critical to the development and socialization of your new dog.