January 27, 2022 by Pinnacle Pet
Did you just get a new puppy? That’s awesome! Getting a dog is such a wonderful experience. But a new puppy is also a big responsibility, and puppies have many developmental needs. One of these important needs is socialization. In fact, socialization may be one of the most important developmental needs dogs have.
Dogs are pack animals by nature, and they are also curious creatures. As puppies grow, they have an ever-increasing need to socialize and learn. The first three months of a puppy’s life are particularly critical. This is the time to make sure that they experience people, places, and things in a friendly, non-threatening manner. Your puppy’s experiences in the first few months of life will permanently shape its behavior.
Dogs should have positive interactions with people from a young age. According to the American Kennel Association, puppies as young as three weeks old will approach humans out of curiosity. Experiencing touch and gentle play at this young age will teach your puppy that humans are not a threat and positively form your dog’s disposition. This is essential. If dogs do not have good experiences with humans from a young age, they may develop fearful or aggressive tendencies.
Similar to human interactions, puppies should have positive interactions with other dogs. You should supervise your puppy and allow it to play with other, non-aggressive dogs. It will be helpful to familiarize yourself with the differences between dogs playing and fighting. A nip here or there is one way dogs positively relate to each other. But if you see curled lips with a low warning growl, it may be time to remove your puppy from the encounter. Remember, though, your puppy was born with littermates, and rough play with other dogs is important to their development!
You should also expose your puppy to new experiences. These experiences could include bathing or a ride in the car. Generally, presenting your dog with a good variety of new experiences (both indoors and outdoors) is best. So go ahead, enjoy a walk in the park while your puppy smells anything and everything!
For more information on dog socialization, we recommend this article on the American Kennel Association website.