From 0-6 months of age, puppies are like little sponges that are willing to absorb as much information as they can about their environment. It is crucial that you and your puppy take full advantage of this window of time and socialize your puppy to all kinds of new places, people, pets, things, noises, sights, sounds and experiences. Your puppy should meet at least five new people, four loud noises, three new dogs, and two new places everyday in order to be one calm puppy. Your puppy should meet people who are round, tall, short, young, old, loud, happy, wearinga hat, carrying a large object, wearing a backpack, carrying a child, rolling on the ground, doing jumping jacks, walking another dog, jogging, biking, etc.!
and exposure that your puppy has early on in his life the better. The puppies that turn out to be the calmest and most balanced are the ones that have been taken everywhere and anywhere that they were allowed to go. A lot of vets tell new puppy owners that they shouldn't take their puppy anywhere until he has his full set of shots. Unfortunately, this process can take anywhere from 2-5 months, which means the window of socialization is about to shut. Here are several rules that you should follow to safely socialize your puppy:
1) Put your puppy in a large beach bag or red wagon and take him on all sorts of fun outings.
2) Sit outside on a bench or at an outdoor coffee shop with your puppy in his bag so that he can take in all of the people and action.
3) Avoid walking your puppy in high dog traffic areas and common paths.
4) Don't let your puppy go to the bathroom where several other dogs might be going too.
5) Never take your puppy to a dog park unless he has all of his shots and is confident enough around other dogs to "hang with the big boys". Instead ask your friends and family to bring over their well
socialized dogs or young puppies that are healthy and friendly for a fun play date.
6) Avoid baby talking and giving affection to your puppy when he's scare
d. If you do, you'll be reinforcing his scared reaction to the person or object. Wait until your puppy calms down and takes a step towards the scary object. Then you can give him tons of praise, love and rewards.
7) Allow your puppy to explore at his own pace. Never force your puppy or drag him into a situation that he's not comfortable with. Be patient and stop to smell the roses!
8) Whenever safely possible allow your puppy to follow you around off-leash. Never do this around busy streets or where there may be other possible dangers. At a young age your puppy will follow you around just like he would his mama dog, so take advantage of this dependent age and your puppy will learn to follow you everywhere as he grows up.
9) Take treats and/or kibble with you everywhere you go so that you can reward your puppy for good behavior. Remember to 'show' your puppy what you want him to do instead of yelling at him for accidentally doing his own puppy idea of what he should do.
10) Ask all of your friends, family, neighbors, strangers etc. to help you train your puppy by having t
hem ask your puppy to sit and reward him with a treat. Your puppy will learn to love all kinds of people and to sit politely in front of people instead of jumping on them for attention.
Puppy Scavenger Hunt
ules: Have fun and expose your puppy to lots of positive, fun experiences, places and people!
1) Ask the mailman or UPS man to give your puppy a treat for sitting nicely.
2) Find a gardener carrying a large object like a blower or a rake and see if he'll give your puppy a treat.
3) Take a car ride to the vet or groomer and give your puppy a special treat there without having an actual appointment.
4) Take your puppy to a dog friendly store like Home Depot or anywhere else you can think of that allows dogs.
5) Ask your puppy to do sit, down, and leave it with at least three othe
r people around you in a place that has a lot of action and noises.
6) Drop a magazine or book while your puppy is in the room with you and then say, "good!" and drop a treat right next to the object that made all of the noise.
7) With your puppy on a leash ask a child to have your puppy sit and then have him drop a treat on the ground for your puppy.
8) Roll a skateboard near your puppy and ask him to sit. Give your puppy lots of treats of choosing to sit nicely and look at you instead of running or lunging towards the skateboard.
9) Carry a large cardboard box or something like it into the room and praise your puppy if he doesn't act scared of it. If he is scared set the box on the floor and wait till he approaches it. If he takes a step forward say "good!" and give him a treat.
10) Find a tall man wearing a large hat and ask him to give your puppy a treat.
Invite some friends that have puppies or even adult dogs to join your scavenger hunt. At the end of the hunt throw a Puppy Party and invite your friends over to meet your puppy. Make sure your puppy has a great time, but that he doesn't get overwhelmed. If your puppy is tired make sure that there's a quiet safe place for him to take a nap without being disturbed. Overall, make sure that your puppy is going everywhere and anywhere with you and meeting all kinds of people and dogs that are nice and friendly. Have fun!