What is it?
Socialization is the developmental process whereby puppies and adolescent dogs familiarize themselves with their constantly changing surroundings. It is how they work out what is safe and good as opposed to what is dangerous and not-so-good.
Anything you want your puppy to cheerfully accept as an adult—people of all kinds, animals, things, and situations—you must introduce her to often and in a positive manner in the first 6 months of her life. Then you have to make sure she stays comfortable with all these new things.
Proper socialization combined with positive reinforcement-based training in the context of a group puppy class helps puppies grow into well-adjusted pets.
But puppies love everything already!
Sure they do. Until the early stage of their development draws to a close at approximately 16 weeks of age. At that point, they become wary of other dogs if they have met too few. And down the road, puppies can become shy or growly around children or strangers, too, unless they have met and enjoyed meeting a bunch of them.
Under-socialized dogs are at much greater risk of developing all sorts of behavioral problems stemming from fear—aggression, agoraphobia, and reactivity towards certain people and animals, for example.
Teach your puppy that the world is safe and prevent behavior problems in the future.
How to socialize your puppy.
Step 1. If your puppy seems even a bit nervous, move a little distance away, give her treats, and then walk away—anything she is unsure about should be encountered in short bursts.
Step 2. As soon as your puppy seems more relaxed, try again. As she sees or hears the thing that scared her before, start your cheerful praise and break out the treats.
Step 3. If your puppy did not seem nervous with the new thing or acts curious about it after she has been treated, go back and let her investigate a little more. Again, praise and treat.
House training, also known as potty training, is the most important behavior for an indoor dog to learn. Inappropriate elimination is the leading cause of dogs being relinquished to a shelter. Here are the top tips on how to potty train your puppy from a certified professional dog trainer in Fresno, CA.
1. Prevent Accidents from Happening
Direct supervision is crucial. You can use your puppy's leash to tether him to you as a reminder to keep your eyes on him at all possible times. If you are not available to supervise with your full attention confine him to a small area or a crate.
2. Reward Elimination in the Correct Area
Accompany your puppy on a leash to your chosen elimination location. Use the same exit route from inside your home to the specific area of your yard. Do not look, talk or play with your puppy until he eliminates. Right after he goes you can offer praise, a treat and if in a secured area, you can offer play time off leash.
3. Anticipate When your Puppy Needs to Go
Keep your puppy's potty schedule consistent. Start an elimination, feeding and activity log in order to learn your puppy's routine. Initially, schedule repeated trips to the designated potty area. Don't forget to take additional potty breaks after activity changes such as: eating, sleeping, playing and training.
4. What to Do When Accidents Happen
Do not punish your dog when an accident happens. Screaming, swatting or forcing your dog's face in the offended area will teach him to be fearful of you and not to eliminate in front of you. Punishment never teaches your puppy where to go.
5. Clean Soiled Locations Thoroughly
Dogs will often be attracted to spots where they have previously eliminated so it is extremely important to thoroughly clean previously soiled areas with an enzymatic cleaner. After applying the cleaner, allow the area to dry and then apply a pine or citrus scented disinfectant. Avoid applying products containing ammonia, vinegar or bleach as these products can attract your puppy back to the area.
The word is out that early puppy socialization is one of the best things you can do for your pup! Recent studies indicate that under-socialized dogs are at greater risk of developing behavioral problems such as aggression, anxiety, and reactivity towards other animals and unfamiliar people. Unfortunately, these problems often end up with the dog unnecessarily discarded. However, most Veterinarians now recommend enrolling your new furry family member in an early socialization class. But what are the important components of a good socialization class? Here are a few tips to point you in the right direction.
1. The Earlier the Better
There is a small window of opportunity, typically between 4 to 14 weeks of age, when puppies are developmentally open to new experiences. Remember that dogs age faster than humans and if you wait until 6 months, your pup is practically a teenager in human terms. Imagine a human child who has never been to school or exposed to other kids until 12 years of age! Behaviors that are cute in puppies can become destructive and dangerous in a fully grown dog. A well-constructed puppy class will recognize the importance of early socialization and often allow enrollment as early as 8 weeks of age. Of course, this should be contingent on a recent physical exam by a veterinarian, proof of current vaccination and appropriate parasite prevention protocol.
2. Not Just Play
As fun as it is to watch, puppy socialization classes should not just be about puppies chasing, racing and wrestling with each other. Controlled, off leash social interaction is great way for puppies to learn to communicate with other puppies but a well-rounded class curriculum is also important. This should include socialization to novelty items and different people, foundation training and prevention topics such as potty and crate training.
3. Think Safety First
How safe from disease can classes be if the puppies are not fully vaccinated? Safer than you think! A recent study published in the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association found that “puppies vaccinated at least once prior to starting puppy classes at less than 16 weeks of age were at no more risk of being diagnosed with Canine Parvovirus infection than vaccinated puppies that did not attend classes”. That being said, scope out the class location before you arrive with your pup. Things to be on the lookout for are a tidy training area that is cleaned before and after with a parvocidal disinfectant, toy & novelty items that are cleaned thoroughly after each use, and potty accidents that are immediately cleaned up. Veterinary hospitals are most often the best venue for hosting puppy socialization classes. Veterinary hospitals serve as a safe and clean location, hold easy access to vaccination records and have the added benefit of creating an initial positive association between your pup and the hospital so your puppy learns to enjoy future visits.