Proper socialization is essential to setting a successful foundation for a happy, healthy canine. A puppy is the most accepting of new experiences between three and 12 weeks old, so socializing him within that time window ensures he’ll be open to and ready for new experiences, new people, and new pups. Keep in mind that you should wait to increase your pup’s introductions and socializations with all dogs seven to 10 days after his last vaccination at 14-16 weeks of age.
1. Enroll in puppy kindergarten.
Puppy classes are one of the safest ways to start socialization. Typically held in groups so puppies can work on basic commands and interact with other pets and people, these classes expose your pup to a whole new environment.
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2. Set up playdates.
Every puppy wants and needs playtime. Make a date with friends and family who have pets to meet your little guy. Chaperone the interaction and watch for signs of aggression or fear. Confronting a pup’s natural hesitancy from the get-go can help him handle bigger issues later in life.
3. Parade your pup.
Introduce your new best pal to children, neighbors, the elderly, and as many different types of people as you can, and be sure to supervise the interaction. The more you can safely expose them to new situations when they’re young, the more comfortable they will be later around different kinds of people.
4. Loosen the leash.
Dogs come from a natural pack hierarchy and tend to resolve any tensions among themselves peacefully. Brush up on dog body language to watch for red flags but allow your puppy to learn a few lessons and work things out independently.