The world is filled with sights, sounds, smells, and myriad other environmental factors that can be overwhelming for puppies. It's important to socialize your dog early so that she feels comfortable outside of the safety of your home when she meets other people and animals. Without proper socialization, your best buddy could become anxious, depressed, or even aggressive.
When should socialization start?
The ideal socialization age for puppies is between three and twelve weeks old, with seven weeks being the average age to start socialization. During this time, your pup is very impressionable and more accepting of new things. He is more likely to absorb new experiences rather than shy away from them.
As puppies age, they become more cautious about the world around them. Dogs between 12 and 18 weeks may show signs of fear and aggression when introduced to new experiences. However, owners shouldn't allow the fear to dictate their dog's behavior and instead continue trying to safely and gently socialize their puppy.
Benefits of Early Socialization
Your puppy is a member of your family, and the goal is for him to feel safe, loved, and calm. By socializing early, you're helping to ensure that your dog can confidently navigate new experiences, like meeting new people or enjoying family outings. This is especially important for families with young children. Without proper exposure to kids, your dog may become fearful or aggressive with eager and easily excitable children.
How do you socialize your puppy?
Socializing your puppy isn't easy, but the results are extremely rewarding. To start, expose your buddy to a variety of situations that she'll encounter regularly like trips to the park, neighborhood walks, visits from friends, or grooming appointments. The more experiences that you can introduce your dog to, the better he will respond as he grows into an adult. Taking time to help your puppy understand the world around her means that you can enjoy more experiences with your best buddy as an adult.
If you encounter issues or just need a little more help to get started, talk to your veterinarian and they'll be able to help you create a socialization plan.