Just like people, puppies are not born knowing how to play nice with others. Your new, furry companion is going to look to you to learn how to make friends, human and canine alike. Starting early will help prevent things like barking and fear-based aggression later on. Following these do’s and don’ts will help you have a happy, friendly four-pawed companion.
DO Start Early
Begin socializing as soon as you take your puppy home. According to the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, primary socialization occurs in the first three months of a pup’s life and refines afterward. Start with friendly humans and vaccinated dogs that you are certain will be well-behaved. The sooner you start proper socialization for your pup, the more well-adjusted he or she will be around other dogs and people.
DON’T Put Off Vaccinating
Never deviate from your vet’s recommended vaccination schedule. While puppies carry over some perks from their mother’s immune system after birth, they become very vulnerable to dangerous diseases when it wears off. Sticking to the vaccination schedule will ensure that your pup has every chance of growing up healthy and strong. It also allows you to introduce your new puppy to other canine friends without posing a threat of getting them sick.
DO Make Play Dates
Expose your puppy to as many places as possible, especially ones he will visit often. Drop by the vet’s office even when an exam is not in order to acclimate him to the surroundings. Visit the kennel, dog park and groomer, and try to introduce your pup to cats and other animals as well. The more he is exposed to at an early age, the more he will be comfortable with.
DON’T Allow Play With Un-vaccinated Dogs
Until your puppy completes the full course of puppy vaccines, he is not protected from many harmful illnesses. Delay trips to dog parks and groomers until after the vaccination schedule is complete, and avoid interaction with neighborhood dogs. It’s hard to know which dogs have had the proper vaccinations and which ones haven’t, but making sure your pup is properly vaccinated from the beginning will give you greater peace of mind as he or she interacts with other dogs.
DO Reward Good Behavior
Studies consistently show that dogs respond best to positive reinforcement. When your puppy is well-mannered, happy and curious, offer up treats and copious praise. Use reinforcing tones and phrases as your dog gets along well with others—if you have a happy disposition about your pup’s behavior, he or she will pick up on it. Presenting interaction with other dogs as a positive thing will eliminate fears or threats your pup may feel during socialization. As with anything that concerns puppies—treats are a highly effective positive reinforcement.
DON’T Make a Big Deal Out of Things
Treat every interaction like a normal activity, keeping excited energy to a minimum. Do not scold harshly over mistakes, and do not make a big deal over him if he gets afraid. If you do, your puppy will think there is a reason to be fearful and anxious. Portraying calm confidence and providing direction is the best way to make your puppy feel safe.
If you find yourself feeling lost, do not be afraid to contact a puppy training expert. It is better to correct issues as soon as they come up rather than letting them become habit. Good socialization will help your pup be happy for a lifetime, so if he or she is having trouble getting properly socialized in the beginning, seek the help of a professional. Getting your puppy used to other dogs and humans early on will make your life much easier, and ensure that the pup grows up happy and well-adjusted.
This article was written by Dixie Somers, a freelance writer who loves to write about business, women’s interests, or home and family. Dixie lives in Arizona with her husband, three daughters, and a spunky Jack Russel Terrier who makes life interesting! Information for this article was provided by the professionals of the Doggie Central Los Angeles Kennels, who specialize in dog boarding and vet care.