Socialization for Puppies
Socialization: Life experience and enrichment
Over the course of your puppy’s life he will visit the vet, probably be hospitalized, perhaps spend time in a kennel, be exposed to traffic, meet members of other species and encounter all sizes, shapes and types of people.
He will hear loud music and other sounds, travel in a car, be around water, probably attend parties and sporting events, climb stairs, cross bridges and experience who knows what else.
If you insure that your puppy’s first exposure to each new experience is pleasant and positive, you will have done a lot towards raising a confident, well-adjusted puppy.
If you have a fearful puppy, you will need to proceed more slowly and carefully. The fearful puppy should be rewarded with food, praise and touch for all brave behavior.
When he is introduced to new people or a new situation he should be allowed to investigate or observe at his own speed. New people should be instructed to ignore the puppy unless he approaches them.
If your puppy starts to act nervous, ignore him if possible and make your own behavior light and cheerful. As much as you may want to, try very hard not to stroke and reassure him, as this will often make him more afraid. If your puppy continues to be fearful, you are proceeding too fast.
You need to expose him to only as much as he can experience without becoming afraid. Gradually, as he masters new situations successfully, his confidence will begin to grow.
Possible enrichment activities:
- Take your puppy to the vet, groomer or kennel and just introduce the puppy and have the staff feed him treats. If your puppy is timid, do this often.
- Take a ride in an elevator, on a boat or wagon.
- Take your puppy for short visits to new places with lots of people.
- Make sure he gets to play with well behaved children as often as possible
- When you get the opportunity, introduce him to lots of different types of people, (men with beards and hats, people in wheelchairs, people on skates, babies in carriages, kids on bikes and people of different races).
- Encourage him to walk on different surfaces (slippery floors, icy sidewalks, gravel, concrete, grass, puddles, etc.)
- Teach you puppy to go up and down stairs and navigate other obstacles. Use a lure to help him.
- Carefully introduce him to other species, like cats, birds, horses, cows, goats or anything else he is likely to encounter. Also find time for him to play with other dogs that you know.
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