By Emily Schultze
So you just got your new puppy and you are super excited to share their cuteness with the world! You want to take them out on the town, but don’t know what steps to take first to make sure that you and your pup have the best possible time. In this week’s training video, New Life K9 Educators Rosa and Nicole talk about how to go about socializing your puppy.
One of the most important things to do when you first get a puppy is to make sure they are safe. Before they go anywhere in public, they need to be up to date with their vaccinations. If you got your pup from a breeder, you can ask them for their vaccination schedule, as many breeders each have a slightly different timeline for getting their dogs vaccinated. If you adopted your dog from a shelter, you should still ask for their schedule, but it is also a good idea to take them to the vet as soon as possible. Contact some of your local vets, because some will do free first check ups for your puppy to make sure they have the proper vaccines. Wait until a little bit after they have finished their full round of vaccines before taking your puppy out into the public, because if they are left unprotected, an action such as licking their paw after they step in an area where another dog has left their mark could expose them to potential illness. Maintaining their health is one of the best ways to ensure that your pup has the energy to go out and explore the world!
Okay, so you’ve taken your puppy to the vet, and everything checks out- what now? Well, now it’s time to focus on baby steps. Puppies are small; everything is new and exciting and stimulating to them. Noises and smells that you barely notice anymore are fresh to your puppy. All of these new experiences can be overwhelming, so taking it slow allows them to take it all in without getting stressed. For example, taking your pup to your favorite cafe during their slow hours can be a great way to let them get used to being in public. Starting out small can make it easier for you to give your puppy good experiences, which will make them more likely to want to keep going out. Puppies are overnight learners, so having patience is essential in the socialization process.
Just like people, every dog has their own personality. Some puppies will be happy to meet everyone and everything, while others will be more hesitant. Paying attention to your dog’s body language will help you learn more about what your pup is comfortable with and how you can give them the best experience. If your dog is pulling away and hiding behind you, taking the time to reassure them will let them know that everything is okay and that you are there for them. If you want to learn more about reading dog's body language, you can check out our article on it here.
When it comes to introducing your puppy to other dogs, the best way to start is by arranging playdates with dogs you know and trust. This way, both you and your dog can ease into socializing without any worries. Starting out right away at the dog park could be a bit much for a new puppy who isn’t used to being around so many other dogs, and if you get nervous about stranger’s dogs growling or roughhousing, your dog can pick up on this and feel uncomfortable as well. Additionally, other dogs could sense your fear and associate it with your dog, making them more of a target. You don’t have to avoid the dog park forever, but it’s good to make sure you both are comfortable before you go!
Another great way to incorporate socialization into your dog’s life is to introduce them to their own doggy mentor. Playing with trusted older dogs is a good way for your pup to pick up on dog manners, as the adult dog can correct their behavior while they are spending time together. Whether they are just messing around in the yard or strolling in public, the older dog can act as a model for the puppy.
Now that you have these tips and tricks, you are ready to take your puppy out into the world! And, in the end, the most important thing to remember is to have fun, so go out there and have a great time with your new dog!
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