The best gift you can give your puppy is the set of social skills needed to become a confident, well-adjusted dog.
Socializing your puppy is about gently introducing them to new experiences, not just throwing them in at the deep end. If a puppy encounters something without stress in the first few months it is far less likely to show fear as an adult dog.Steve Leonard, Vet
1. Prime Time
The most significant time for socialization is from birth to 16 weeks so it is vital that your breeder has been actively working on this before you bring your puppy home. (Rescue groups may not have a dossier on a pup’s early life but they can offer great insights and guidance based on their tests and observations).
2. When not to pick up
Puppies love rummaging in handbags and can swiftly chomp through seals on plastic bottles so make sure medicines for both humans and pets are stored safely.
Check shelves and wall units decorated with breakables can withstand joyful jolts during playtime and be mindful of what you leave on low tables - anything you casually set down can disappear, either into a secret hidey-hole or the puppy's tummy!
Fireworks is a good example for socializing your dog. Pups born towards the beginning of the year may never hear fireworks until they are 7-8 months old and it can terrify them. I recommend watching firework videos, gradually turning the sound up each night. Your neighbours may be bemused, but you are less likely to have a sound-phobic dog.Steve Leonard, Vet
Tried and Tested
1. Encountering all types of people and clothing early on will help avoid seemingly random phobias of fluorescent jackets, beards etc.
2. Take short trips in the car or on public transport to familiarize your pup with engine noise and vehicle motion.
3. Ease pups into new places by visiting friends’ houses and taking a variety of routes on walks.
Patience is key - allow your puppy to explore at their own pace, and when they respond with confidence, immediately offer praise. Treats are useful for encouragement, helping them understand there is nothing to fear.Steve Leonard, Vet