Exposing your puppy to new people, places and situations early on is important, as it will help your dog feel confident with new experiences throughout his life.
Early socialization can begin as soon as you bring your puppy home. To help your canine easily adapt to social situations the American Kennel Club offers the following tips:
- Socializing at home. It's important to begin socializing your puppy right away, since the peak socialization period is from birth to 16 weeks. Schedule a daily playtime at home, which is a good way to bond with your puppy. Cuddle with your dog or play with him using his favorite toys. Once he's used to you, make sure to also invite friends over to play with the puppy.
- Taking your puppy outdoors. It's best to introduce your puppy to new people, places and things gradually. Make sure he has all his necessary shots before exposing him to other pups outdoors. Once your dog feels comfortable around new people at home, you can start taking him for a walk around the block. Eventually he will begin to feel more comfortable with the outdoors, which is when it's OK to take him on daily walks, and to take him to new places where there are lots of people and a lot of activity. If your dog is on a leash and sitting calmly, invite new people to pet him.
- Socialization after puppyhood. Socializing is an ongoing process that continues throughout your dog's life. Keep introducing your dog to new places, sounds, people, environments and other animals. You can take your him to a new dog park or take a different route while walking. Using treats and praise to reward your dog will make it a positive experience for him.
For more tips on dog ownership, visit the AKC at www.akc.org.