Socialization is the process of preparing your pet to enjoy interactions and be comfortable with other animals, people, places and activities. Socializing your dog through puppyhood and adolescence is one of the best ways to ensure that they become a friendly and confident adult. The greatest window of learning in a dog’s life starts around 4 weeks of age and closes between 16 and 20 weeks. This period allows puppies to be exposed to a wide variety of sights, sounds, smells, and sensations without becoming fearful. Puppies who miss out on these experiences may never learn to be comfortable around unfamiliar things, paving the way for anxiety, fear, and aggression later on in life.
Create a socialization plan specifically for your dog to prepare him or her for life in your household. Plan exposures to the animals, individuals, environments, activities and objects that will be part of his or her new life. Acclimate your puppy to lots of different sounds, being careful not to overwhelm him with too much noise too fast. Expose him to kitchen sounds, telephones ringing, children playing, TV and radio, cars and buses moving by, and so on. Try to introduce your puppy to several new people every day, keeping the interactions pleasant and unthreatening. Focus especially on setting up pleasant encounters with unfamiliar people. Teach your puppy to enjoy having people approach his bowl while he’s eating. This will help to prevent resource guarding, which occurs when dogs feel anxious about others approaching their own valued resources.
Provide praise, play and treats to reward engagement. Allow the dog to withdraw if he or she is uncomfortable. Move at a pace appropriate for your pet’s personality. Provide regular positive and diverse situations to encourage your dog to enjoy new experiences without becoming fearful or aggressive. Continue to reward your dog for calm or playful responses to social interactions throughout his life.
To help you develop a plan according to your dog’s needs, petlov.app has a team of behavior and training experts offering 24/7 online support.