One of the best ways to show your pup how much you love them is through proper, lifelong socialization. Without positively exposing your puppy to new sights, sounds, people, pets, and places during the prime socialization window of 3 to 14 weeks of age, your pet may be nervous and fearful in new situations or may develop generalized anxiety.

Although many people believe socialization means exposing a puppy to as many new things as possible when they’re young, socialization has a much deeper meaning. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, socialization is the process of preparing your dog to enjoy interactions with other dogs and to be comfortable with other animals, people, places, and activities. Before undertaking this important task that will prepare your new best friend for their future, read the following tips.

#1: Make every experience positive

Proper socialization is based on positive experiences, as negative experiences only serve to frighten your puppy and poorly influence future interactions. To build a positive foundation, introduce your pup to new sights, sounds, people, and pets by pairing novel situations with high-value treats. Food is a wonderful distraction and reward for puppies, and small bites of chicken breast, hot dogs, or string cheese will teach your pet that the world is not that scary.

#2: Move your puppy at a comfortable pace

Avoid rushing into new situations, which can frighten your puppy. While you wish your puppy would stop barking at the neighbor’s children riding their bikes, rapidly coaxing them too close will scare her more. Instead, take each step slowly, pairing it with tasty treats. Have them meet one child at a time on their own terms, letting them sniff and say hello without the child reaching to pet them. Once your pup is comfortable, allow them to sniff the bike, rewarding them for each brave step. If, at any point, your puppy shows anxiety or fear, retreat to the last positive step and advance more slowly once they are relaxed.

Have you welcomed a new four-legged family member into your home? Consider choosing a Care Companion Plan for your pet’s health care needs. Contact us to schedule an appointment for a wellness exam.

Our Care Companion Plan™ sets a precedent. Essential care is neatly packaged into pay-monthly plans that ensure each pet receives above-and-beyond attention. As your furry family members age, the plans change to fit their specific needs. We keep track of payment, recommend plan changes, and update you about upcoming exams and treatments often and with transparency. Truly, it comes down to doing what’s best for the pets. That’s what it’s all about.