Let’s face it, as a new dog owner, you probably haven’t thought too much about puppy socialization. However, this is a very important part of dog training. Many cases of canine aggression could have been prevented if the dog’s owner had only known how to socialize a puppy.
Why Is It So Important To Socialize Your Dog?
When you expose your dog to lots of different people, different animals, and different places, he learns for himself that new sights, sounds, and people are fun, not scary.
It’s better to start socializing your dog while he’s still a puppy. You may not know that the best age to socialize a puppy is when he’s between the ages of three and twelve weeks. A young dog who has good experiences with new people, other dogs, and even cats will be much friendlier and less fearful of people. This helps to prevent aggressive dog behavior towards strangers when he gets older.
However, it’s never too late to socialize your dog. It may take a little longer with an older dog, but you can still use canine socialization in order to help your pooch overcome a fear of strangers and be a happier, more trustworthy friend.
What’s The Best Way To Socialize A Puppy?
Actually it’s not that difficult to socialize your dog, if you’re willing to make a little effort.
Many dog trainers suggest a puppy preschool. This is a series of group-training classes for puppies and their owners. Usually there are about 10 puppies and their people, along with a couple of dog trainers. During these classes, the puppies start to learn basic dog obedience commands like sit, stay, and others.
But the obedience lessons aren’t the most important part of puppy preschool. The play sessions are where your puppy learns essential social skills. During the play sessions, the puppies are let off their leashes and allowed to play with each other. Why is this important?
First, your puppy is learning how to get along with unfamiliar dogs.
Second, since there are other dog owners and a couple of dog trainers present, this means lots of unfamiliar people, too. This is a great way for your puppy to learn not to be afraid of new people.
Third, it’s a controlled environment. The dog trainers make sure things don’t get too wild.
Don’t Stop Puppy Socialization Too Soon
Many dog owners make the mistake of thinking that since their dog has been to puppy preschool, their puppy is now socialized. This mistaken idea can lead to problems later on.
It’s important to continue to expose your young dog to new faces, new animals, and new places. Sometimes puppies who seemed to be well socialized at a younger age “forget” those early lessons. By the time your dog is between eight months and two years old, he may become fearful of people and start showing canine aggression towards strangers.
Here’s some food for thought: even though your puppy has learned basic skills during his first few months, it’s important to keep reinforcing puppy socialization lessons throughout your dog’s life.