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Posted on January 12, 2016

Socializing Your New Puppy

Socializing Your New Puppy

Meet Le Le, an adorable, 13-week, Labrador retriever.  Le Le’s guardians had us over to help train their brand new puppy and wanted to know what they could do to help her socialize with her new family and environment. 

Like so many new puppy parents, Le Le’s have heard about the importance of socializing a new puppy.  They wanted to know: what is socialization, how do you do it, and why is it so important?

During our visit we explained that socialization for a new puppy involves three things: (1) positive experiences meeting new people, places and things, (2) learning to be comfortable with human touch and body handling and (3) learning how to interact with other dogs. 

At Zen Dog Training we specialize in early-intervention training and encourage our clients to pay careful attention to socializing their dogs. In fact, the time you spend socializing your dog between 8 and 14 weeks of age to a great extent will define your dog’s personality for life!

Technically speaking the socialization period is the time when a puppy is the most impressionable and therefore an essential time to bond and train.  After the socialization period ends (around the 14th week) your dog’s personality is more set. However, if you have an older dog or puppy -- there is no need to worry -- dogs are always learning so you can still socialize an older dog!

If you are able to influence the first few months of your dog’s life (between 2-6 months), you should spend a lot of time teaching your dog to be social with people, kids, cars, traffic, dogs, other animals, touch and new experiences.  This means using lots of treats and patience to slowly introduce your dog to new people, places, and things.

Puppy socialization with other puppies is important too! Enrolling your puppy in a group puppy class that allows puppies to free-play is essential. Puppies learn how to be social by playing and interacting with other dogs.  Puppy group classes are ideal if they allow lots of play and are held in a clean, supervised environment like the classes at Zen Dog Training!

During our visit, we talked about their future lifestyle when socializing Le Le.  Since they were interested in having children, we gave them extra homework to expose Le Le to positive experiences with young children. Just by asking parents on walks if they could introduce their puppy to the kids is a great start.

Setting up playdates with friends who have kids or just hanging out in the parks and letting interested kids say hi to Le Le also helps. Doing extra socialization today, will give Le Le what she needs to be a well adjusted, accepting “big sister” in the future.  

To learn more about socializing your new puppy, get access to our socialization checklist or view our extensive video tutorials, visit us at zendogtraining.net.