Puppy Socialization: How To Help Your Pup With Positive Experiences
Naturally, not every puppy comes from responsible beginnings. For the shelter puppy, one from a rescue group, or perhaps even a stray from completely unknown origins, your immediate attention to socialization can work wonders. This is the moments of your puppy’s life that can make or break his behavior and reaction to the outside world (as well as inside the house), for years to come.
However, keep in mind that, whether a few weeks or a few months old, coming home with you is a scary experience for a puppy. Give him a few days to adapt before taking him anywhere else.
Home soon provides a wonderful, secure environment for beginning socialization. The television, radio, blender and other appliances prepare your puppy for “strange” noises he may encounter later. Allowing him on different floorings, like vinyl, tile, wood and carpet, readies him for walking at the veterinarian’s office, pet supply store, friend’s homes, and more.
Of course every puppy is an individual and this fact greatly affects how you socialize your particular canine. Study your new addition, noting how he approaches unfamiliar objects and scenarios. A bold, fearless puppy frequently requires redirection to prevent him from jumping in headfirst, while a slightly timid or cautious youngster might need encouragement even in perfectly safe situations.
Professional trainers suggest that when your puppy shows hesitation towards something, don’t baby him. For instance, if your pup dislikes the slippery feel of vinyl, place a few pieces in or near his play area during supervised times. As you interact with him, purposefully disregard it when he “accidentally” places a foot on the vinyl. Your matter-of-fact attitude helps allay his concerns.
Alternatively, you can try throwing a favorite toy or treats onto the vinyl floor, enough so your pup’s feet make contact. This places his focus on having fun rather than worrying where he steps. As his confidence grows, sitting yourself on the vinyl floor further helps him forget his fears in order to join his favorite person.
These examples of positive, non-force methods illustrates how giving your puppy the time he needs builds confidence in his own abilities. Conversely, forcing a dog to confront and deal with something he is uncomfortable with, often called “flooding”, can be successful, but much depends on the dog, the issue, and application of the method. Done incorrectly, fears increase rather than decrease. For other than experienced trainers, positive works best.
The information shared on this site is for information only. It does not take the place of professional advice from your pet’s healthcare provider.