If you’ve recently become a dog owner, it’s important to note that an unsocialized puppy may grow into an aggressive dog. Dogs that become aggressive often do so because they are fearful or haven’t been taught how to act appropriately in social settings. Proper socialization reduces these risks and helps ensure you have a happy and well-adjusted puppy.
The following are some tips that will help you socialize your puppy with both humans and other dogs.
Introduce Your Puppy to New People, Sights, Smells, and Sounds
To your puppy, the entire world is new and strange, and every new encounter is an opportunity to create a meaningful and positive association. Introducing your puppy to different people, animals, sounds, and smells will help them enter new situations without fear and reinforce their looking to you for guidance.
For example, you can introduce your puppy to a person who is in a wheelchair or riding a skateboard, wearing sunglasses or a beard, wearing baggy or dark clothing, or with a small child. Each of these can be intimidating for some dogs. In addition, you can have your puppy walk on different types of surfaces such as tiles, concrete, bricks, hardwood, and carpets. You can also introduce the puppy to the sound of cars and buses driving down the street.
During all these encounters, remain calm and confident even if your puppy acts scared. Don’t push your puppy or force them to interact when they are afraid, but don’t make a big deal of, and especially don’t reward, their frightened behavior.
Make It Positive
While you’re introducing your puppy to these new experiences, ensure that they’re guidance and attention is from you. This way, your puppy will learn positive associations with these new experiences. When they have a successful interaction with a human or another dog, reward their proper mindset and good behavior. Praise is the perfect reward. It’s free, always available, and won’t cause your dog to gain weight.
It’s important to note that dogs take their cues from their humans. Therefore, if you act nervous when introducing them to new things, they may sense that and be more likely to react badly. Be careful not to act nervous or put pressure on their leash.
Involve Your Family
Involving different members of your family will help move your puppy out of their comfort zone, and will let them know that they’re safe when experiencing something new with other people.
Take Your Puppy to the Public
After your puppy has become used to your family members and home, you can move their fun experiences outside. You can take them to a friend’s house, to the park, or out for walks around your neighborhood.
Socializing your puppy will make help them grow into a happy and well-adjusted adult. However, throughout the process, work in baby steps so that you do not overwhelm or scare your puppy. Look for signs that your puppy needs a break and if they show these signs, lead them into a familiar situation to relax.