Author: Haley Gibbs
Socializing your puppy is one of the most important trainings an owner can offer for your dog’s safety, happiness, and future. As much joy a dog brings to your life, putting in the work and setting them up for success is vital for your time together to ensure that your dog is a friendly and confident dog throughout their life.
Your puppy learns the most in their life from about 3 weeks to about 16-20 weeks of age, and this time is vital to expose your pup to different sounds, smells, sights, and experiences that teach them to not be afraid of new things they’ll come across in life. When your puppy is not exposed, they may never learn to be comfortable around different smells, sights, people, and much more which can lead to aggression, anxiety, and fear throughout their life. It's important to make sure your pup is exposed to a variety of new experiences during this short time, such as:
- Sounds: Don’t overwhelm your pup with too many sounds, but over this period make sure they hear a variety of new and different noises around the house, from different TV programs, people, music, and sounds like a phone ringing, a train, a car horn honking, animals, doorbells, and more.
- People: Introduce your pup to as many new people as you can! Make sure each new meeting is a positive one, especially focusing on meeting young children and unfamiliar men. It’s also great to show your puppy that different people can wear different things such as a large jacket, a hat, big boots, umbrellas, and so on.
- Things that move: Puppies can get scared of many things that move and it will stick with them throughout their life. During this period, create positive interactions with things that move such as bikes, scooters, skateboards, strollers, shopping carts, automatic doors, and other daily items.
- Touch: One of the best things you can do is teach your puppy that you can touch different places on their body and that they are safe while doing so. Always keep the contact gentle and positive with your puppy and hold them in different ways, touch their feet, look in their ears and mouths, stick your hand in their mouth, along with petting their tail and body. This will especially be helpful when you need to trim their nails, clean their ears and teeth, and during vet examinations.
- Possessive behavior: You can teach your dog to not be possessive and resource guard with their food by teaching your pup that people are allowed to approach their dog bowl while they eat from it. Use a combination of petting your pup while they eat, sitting next to them, picking up their dish and putting a treat in it and then walking away, and putting your hand in their bowl.
- Aggressive behavior: Reward your dog’s good behavior instead of dominating them with aggression during bad behavior. This will build a more trusting relationship between you and your pup.
Learn about the best dogs chews for puppies by clicking here.
Adolescent Dog Socialization
Even though the ideal time period for socialization ends at about 4-5 months, it’s best practice to continue with positive socialization behaviors as your dog continues to get older.
- Introduce your dogs to new people and dogs: It’s important to continue allowing your dog to meet new people and dogs as they grow up by creating positive experiences for your dog. There are many options for your pup to explore meeting other dogs such as dog parks, play dates, doggy daycare, and good old-fashioned walks when you run into another dog.
- Dog walks: Find new walking routes to take your dog on so they consistently get new mental stimulation when walking instead of staying on the same path with the same smells and sights.
- Touch: Owners should constantly remind their dog that they can touch them in different places. Remember to gently touch different places on their body like their feet, look in their ears and mouth, stick your hand in their mouth, and pet their tail and body.
- Fear: When your dog is scared of something, don’t punish them for it. You might be caught off guard when one day, your dog is all of a sudden fearful of something like a different dog or person. This usually coincides with the end of their socialization period, which happens at around 4-5 months old. Your dog might try to flee or confront what is frightening them. Don’t punish them as that can confirm their fear and it's best to instead remove your pup from the situation and distract them by asking them to do a few commands and reward them for their good behavior.
Luckily, if you’re looking to offer your dog wholesome rewards for their positive behavior, Natural Farm offers a wide variety of healthy, all-natural chews, treats, and bones that your pup is certain to adore!
Their Power Bully Sticks, for example, are made with premium beef cheek muscle wrapped in beef pizzle, and because these chews are rich in both collagen and protein, they can help support your dog's health throughout every life stage.
Adult Dog Socialization
- Play: Adult dog play can look a little different as your dog reaches maturity, and oftentimes your dog doesn’t like to play with unfamiliar dogs in a large group that your puppy once loved. Owners might witness their once easygoing dog avoid a group of dogs by standing close to their owners and growling or snapping at young dogs if they come too close. This can be confusing for owners, but it is actually quite common as your dog gets older. Instead of a large group, introduce your dog to one new dog at a time. If you have a friend that has a good, gentle dog, invite time to go on a walk so your dog gets used to them being close but not off leash. This lets your dog be introduced to a new dog in an environment that feels safe to them. As your dog gets more comfortable, you can start working towards an off-leash play session with the dog they are already familiar with.
- Leash aggression: If your dog is dealing with leash aggression such as your dog lunging, pulling towards other dogs, or barking at them when walking, it might be time to speak with a trainer about what exactly is triggering your dog and how to best work with them on their issues.
Natural Farm is an all-natural dog treat company with a variety of chews your dog will love, visit our store page to see our entire collection!
About Natural Farm
In 2018, after years of searching for high-quality, natural dog treat products, we decided to bring them to the market ourselves. That’s how Natural Farm was born—we wanted to present the industry with what it lacked the most: natural dog chews, treats, and bones, sustainably sourced from local suppliers and produced in our own human-grade, FDA- and USDA-approved facilities, where every product is lab tested for quality and contamination.
Natural Farm is committed to pets, people, and the planet. We give back to communities and pets in need, support reforestation efforts and nonprofits, and our products are packaged using recycled materials.
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