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How to Socialize a Puppy

What you need to know about socializing puppies

Posted April 26, 2012 in Dog Behavior

Social skills are just as important for your canine pal as they are for each of us. A well-mannered, well-adjusted dog who can adapt to a variety of situations with new people and other pets will be a happier dog and a better companion for you.

What defines a well-socialized dog?
Dogs that are comfortable meeting and being around a variety of people of all ages, other dogs, and even other types of pets – especially cats – are considered well socialized. Being relaxed and receptive to new people and pets isn’t something that comes naturally to every dog, any more than it does to every person. Some dogs are extroverts and others are timid. Some dogs are naturally comfortable with people, but take a bit more time getting used to another dog or cat.

Why is socializing a dog important?
If you socialize your dog in a variety of situations, especially those situations in which you often find yourself (households with lots of children or pets, dog parks with your other dogs, a busy city street, etc.), you’ll know how he is going to react and feel confident that your dog is going to be comfortable and well behaved in any situation.

If you’re not focusing on social skills from an early age, you’re basically always putting your dog into new and surprising situations. This can lead to fear, insecurity, and the negative behaviors that come with those emotions.

The Social Puppy Top 4 Tips
1. Start early. When your veterinarian gives you the go-ahead, make routine “social engagements” part of his life. These can be as simple as meeting neighbors or other neighborhood pets as you take walks. You can also find local playgroups or doggie daycare facilities (in the case of a puppy, be sure they have classes specializing in younger dogs–you don’t want a little tyke to be thrown in with the big dogs right away). Dog parks can also be a good possibility, but these require a bit more thought and research and aren’t a place for very young dogs; see our article on dog parks for more information. Also, always make sure that your dog is up to date on vaccines and preventatives that protect against parasites such as fleas and intestinal worms.

2. Mix it up. Make sure that you introduce your dog to a variety of situations. A dog who only meets

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