Socializing a puppy is very important to their mental health and well-being. Between the ages of 8 and 16 weeks, the amount of socialization a puppy gets can determine whether or not they will be able to deal calmly with new situations, people, places, and other animals when they get older. It’s a very small, but very important window of time in which to ensure a pup’s good mental health and prevent problems with fear and reactivity down the line.
Many people understand “socialization” to mean playing and spending time with the pup indoors and out in the yard, and introducing them to other dogs. While those things are an important aspect of their learning, socializing a puppy also means taking them out for walks around your neighborhood, introducing them to new people, taking them to busy places such as pet-friendly stores, taking them for car rides, taking them on buses and trains, and more.
[Note: Parks and off-leash dog parks are not recommended, as other dogs in those areas are not always obedient to their owners or under control like they should be, and they could accidentally injure a pup with their excitement. On the other side of the coin, some dogs don’t like puppies, and they may attack and possibly kill a young pup if they see it.]
To ensure that your puppy is properly socialized, expose him or her to as many sights, sounds, people, and other common situations (such as sirens, screeching tires, construction, and etc.) as possible, as often as possible. By helping them get used to daily life now, you’ll be helping them learn that while the world can be a noisy place, they don’t have to be afraid of it.
Have a great day and a great weekend, and remember: Stay calm and lead on. 🙂