I grab my jacket and beanie and hear Molly charging towards me. She knows. It’s puppy school time. Molly is nine weeks old, has had the necessary vaccinations, and is ready for action. Socialization!
Socializing your puppy is key to having a well-adjusted, friendly, relaxed, take anywhere dog. That is what we all want. It is all about exposing Molly to as many dogs, people, and surroundings as possible. The more interactions, the more relaxed she will become.
Molly squirms and wiggles in the car harness, all the way. As soon as I turn into the carpark, she stops and becomes fixated. Perhaps it’s the movement she can see. Or she knows what is ahead of her — one hour of meeting and sniffing.
The key to socializing a puppy is to ensure there is a safe environment full of fun, encouragement, and lots of dogs. Here are four tips to socialize your puppy;
Attend a local dog school
Enrol in your local dog school. The professional instructors will have a program focusing on socializing puppies and adult dogs.
After I greet my doggie friends and provide an update on Molly’s week, we head out to the oval.
We stand in a circle, facing inwards. On the count of three, we walk towards the centre and let each dog sniff another puppy. We count to two. Then move away.
It is fast, fun, and suits Molly’s short attention span.
I’ve used this trick when walking past other dogs on the beach. Just a quick sniff, then we are off again.
I’m wary of other dogs, which may bite or become aggressive. The two-second sniff is perfect.
I walk Molly everywhere, along the beach, in parks and past bustling cafes. Exposure to unfamiliar environments and surfaces builds confidence.
When walking, I keep Molly on,
- a leash to keep her safe
- the ground. She is never picked up and passed around “for a cuddle”
It is imperative to provide Molly with breaks, especially if she gives me the sign she is tired. This will help her not to become overwhelmed.
Sudden noises around the home can be frightening to puppies when they are not accustomed to them.
When the washing machine, dishwasher, and vacuum are in full force, I ensure Molly is around. She is now used to these household noises. Nothing scares her.
Treats help me create a positive experience and environment.
I have Molly’s favorite treats, small kangaroo tendons. I carry these with me in a plastic bag and know by the end of the walk or lesson, she will have consumed all of them. She will do anything for these.
Socializing your puppy is incredibly important and will develop a well-adjusted, friendly dog. This is achieved by attending a local puppy school, exposure to as many dogs, people, and surroundings as possible. The more interactions, the more relaxed your puppy will become.