Puppy socialization right is the single most important thing to get right to help your puppy become the best dog he can be for you and your family. Its sets the foundation for how he responds to the world and everything in it. And you only get one shot at it! There is no way to go back and have another go later on. Here we will tell you how.
Congratulations on the adoption of your new puppy. At Perfect Match Puppy we are committed to assisting you and your puppy to develop the best and most enjoyable relationship together possible. We hope your years together are filled with joy, love, good health and happiness. Correct puppy socialisation will help you achieve that.
Much about the quality of your relationship with your new pet will depend on you, as much about the personality your dog grows into will depend on how it is managed during the critical first few months of its life.
The ethical, responsible breeder you sourced your puppy from will have had yours and your dog’s best interests at heart, and have done all they could to start your new puppy off right. The rest is up to you.
A sociable, friendly dog that is happy to meet new people, and unfazed by different experiences, is a product of two things – genetically predisposed temperament, and positive exposure and conditioning as a pup. You can get a good idea of the pup’s genetic or natural temperament from doing the Perfect Match Puppy Personality Test. And you can do a lot to modify and optimise its natural temperament through thorough and positive socialization.
There is a narrow window of opportunity to successfully socialize your puppy that begins at 4 weeks of age and continues to 16 weeks of age (some say 12 weeks of age). As you (we hope) will not be getting him home until he is 8 weeks old, that only leaves a very short period where you will have to make every day count if you want a psychologically sound dog for the rest of its life with you.
If you neglect this important period you have lost the opportunity forever… It is not something you can come back to and fix later any more than adult therapy can fully correct issues inflicted by negative childhood experiences in humans.
Your pup will not be completely protected from common infectious diseases until it receives its second vaccination at 12 weeks of age. Even so, it is strongly advisable that regular contact with other dogs is maintained right through the important imprinting period.
It’s a must to take your puppy to “Puppy Pre-School” which provides the opportunity for it to mix with other vaccinated pups in a disease-safe environment. It also helps you learn how to manage basic training (so you get trained as well!) and understand how your dog’s mind works. Additionally it’s a great opportunity to ask any questions you may have about raising your new fur kid. So as soon as you know when you will be taking your puppy home, book a few weeks in advance so you are assured of being able to begin puppy classes within the first week he is with you, as places are limited and usually fill fast.
On top of Puppy Pre-school you should book out the first 4 weeks he lives with you with a full social calendar. For example, visits from friends and family including men, women, children and people with hats or beards! And visits to friends, family and school show and tell. Most important are children and men. Ensure these interactions are positive for the puppy. The giving of treats help cement "strangers" in the puppy's mind as a "good" thing. And setting a rule for all children handling your puppy to first sit on the floor will prevent it from being dropped which can mess up what you are trying to achieve! Limit the time to 30 minutes or so, so you don't exhaust your pup. They are babies and need lots of sleep and rest when young.
Other dogs or backyards are fine so long as the dogs who live there are healthy and have been vaccinated. Arrange visits to or from other vaccinated dogs in a clean (non-public) environment so your puppy grows up as a well balanced, sociable, and sexually normal member of the canine race!
Unless you want your puppy to grow into a savage guard dog or nervous wreck that freaks out at every new experience, person or animal, I strongly advise you to ensure that it gets plenty of positive contact of all kinds of during the imprinting period. Poorly socialized dogs often end up in dog pounds where their disposition makes them almost impossible to rehome.
So expose your pups to positive varied experiences with as many different kinds of folks and critters as possible while it is still young enough to imprint familiarity with them. It also includes experiences like rides in the car, noisy traffic, umbrellas, shopping carts, skateboarders, busy marketplaces, horses or any other animal your puppy will be exposed to as an adult dog, other dogs, swimming at the beach, etc.
Sit outside a busy area with your pup, such as a shopping centre or library, and invite different kinds and ages of people to give your pup a treat and pet him. Do this gradually with only one or two people at a time so that he is not overwhelmed. Take him to your veterinary clinic just and invite the staff to offer him his favorite treats while you are there. Give him treats while you hang out near a busy thoroughfare where he can be exposed to a range of vehicular and foot traffic.
There is an element of risk of disease in exposing your young pup to the world, but you can and should carry your pup through public places and other areas that may be contaminated with dog diseases such as dog parks and footpaths. And don’t allow him contact with dogs whose vaccination status is unknown to you.
Poor socialization during the puppy period is the single biggest killer of dogs around the world through the behavioral problems that often result. So don't neglect this crucial first step with your new canine companion.