Updated: Oct 1, 2020
It is impossible to overstate how important it is to train and socialize your pup. Dogs, like people, need to be taught what to do in various situations. Dogs who are not trained or socialized will be fearful of unfamiliar settings which creates an uncomfortable and possibly dangerous situation. Luckily socialization can be fun for you and your pet, and training absolutely strengthens the bond between a dog and their owner.
What is socialization?
Socialization is the process of exposing your pet to stimuli (sights, sounds, smells, people, dogs, and sensations) that they will encounter as an adult. Exposure at a young age can help your pet react appropriately when they encounter various people, places, and situations. It is essential for ensuring your puppy will become a happy, confident, and well-adjusted dog for life.
When to Start
If you have your puppy once they are weaned, at 6 to 8 weeks, you can begin then. Touch their paws, separate their toes and lift their lip to inspect and feel their teeth and lift their ears and tail. This will prepare them for essential veterinary visits and nail clipping/ear cleaning/ dental care at home.
As they grow, you can continue to expose them regularly to a variety of sights, smells, and people. Hardwood floors versus carpet, people of different ethnicities, the sound of a plastic bag crumpling, a toddler and a person wearing glasses are examples of things to expose your pet to. A comprehensive list can be found here.
Our hospital follows the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior's Guidelines for Puppy Socialization, which encourages socialization (with restrictions) for puppies even before they are fully vaccinated.
Puppy classes administered by an accredited trainer are essential for pets and their owners to learn basic commands and expose them to other dogs in a controlled environment. Jacqueline Gaillard has worked with Dr. Fogel's puppy, Rosita, and has spoken to our staff on fear-free visits for pets. She hosts behavior classes and workshops.