New Puppy Socialization Guide

puppy walking

STOP! Before we discuss how to socialize a puppy with dogs and people…

We insist on taking a minute to congratulate you on your brand new family member.

Welcoming a young puppy into your home is a really magical thing to be able to do.

So congratulations on the newest member of your family. We hope you really enjoy the experience!

Ok, with that said, we will now look at some easy-to-follow tips on how to raise a really well-socialized puppy and adult dog, especially in that critical period when they are very young.

NOTE – Please check with your veterinarian about vaccinations before allowing your puppy to socialize with any dogs apart from others who may live in your home (that you know for sure have been vaccinated and aren’t sick).

How To Socialize A Puppy With Other Dogs

In a nutshell puppy, socialization is as simple as letting your young dog get used to being around dogs and letting them naturally figure each other out.

However, you can take some simple steps to make sure you socialize your puppy in the safest way possible.

The Sooner You Start, the Better

Dogs of any age can, to some extent, be socialized into better behavior around other animals and people.

But the sooner you start the process, the better. Beginning with shorter, safer interactions and then building up the intensity of the challenges over time.

Start Off in a Controlled and Neutral Environment

The first time you introduce your puppy to another dog should be in a neutral and controlled spot.

Not a dog park, not in the home of one or the other dog, you need somewhere that neither of them considers “theirs.”

For example, a quiet yard would be a great place to start with (dog parks are big no at this stage).

Tiring the Dog Out Before Socialization Can Help

If your puppy tends to be very energetic and overly excitable, you should definitely try to tire them out with play and exercises before their first socialization.

The more you can drain their energy levels, the less likely they will be highly strung during the introduction.

separation anxiety

Always Have the Dogs on a Leash the First Time They Meet

Even if you are introducing the puppy (or puppies) in a secure area, you should still have both dogs on a leash.

So that you (and the other puppy parent) have full control over them, both should the need arise.

If you don’t have a leash and collar yet, here’s a reminder of some of those things that you will need and probably should have before bringing your puppy home.

Don’t Have Any Toys or Chews in the Area

Before you introduce the puppy to another dog, ensure there are no chews, toys, or favorite blankets in the area that one of the dogs may feel protective over.

You want to reduce the likelihood of any conflict arising by removing potential areas of conflict.

If Your Puppy is Too Scared, Make Space Between Them

The more distance there is between the scared dog and the other one, the less scared they will feel.

If the puppy is a little bit timid, that’s fine, but if they suffer from crippling levels of fear, then increase the distance and see if it subsides.

If They Are Overwhelmed, End the Session

If either one of them is so scared or aggressive that it is overwhelming for them, you should stop the session and give them some one-on-one time.

If this does happen, try not to worry about it, you can try again, and if you really struggle, a certified dog trainer will be able to help you make a big difference to your dog’s life in regards to socializing.

Playing Fighting is Fine Unless it Gets Too Aggressive

If your dog engages in play fighting with their new friend, this is usually fine.

However, if it gets too rough and aggressive, you should separate them, give them some attention, let them calm down, and then slowly let them engage again.

Take Your Time with Each New Socialization

Taking things slowly is really important, especially if your puppy is really young or really nervous.

If your pup comes away from the socialization with a positive association, that’s great, but if you push them too fast, it will actually be counterproductive and harm the socialization.

You’ll need to think about how you will handle things if you have other pets already in your home and what you will do at the beginning when the new dog arrives.

Puppy Classes are Great For Socialization

Taking your young dog to puppy classes is a great way to get lots of good socialization done with other puppies.

And not only will you get the socialization benefits, but your pup will also learn some new obedience behaviors (and you get to meets lots of lovely puppies and their owners).

The Sum Total is What Really Matters

As you raise your puppy to be a well-behaved, friendly adult dog, what really matters is the total of the socialization program.

The more they meet and interact with different dogs and people in different environments, the more likely they are to cope without getting scared or aggressive.

NOTE – Just because your puppy is well socialized with one dog (or more), that doesn’t mean it will always go the same way.

So please always pay attention when your puppy is meeting a new dog for the first few times. It’s always better to be a bit overly cautious.

NOTE – With any issues around your puppy and their well-being, if in doubt, always please consult a qualified veterinarian.

Vets don’t just provide medical advice but also can help you to help your puppy learn useful life skills and do so in a safe way.

How To Socialize A Puppy Before Vaccinations

From the day you get them home, you should be working on socializing your puppy with as many people and places.

It is obviously essential that they don’t meet any other dogs (who aren’t already living in your home) until the veterinarian says it is safe to do so (usually about 12-16 weeks of age on the vaccination schedule).

It is also important you don’t let them play in areas where strange dogs may have done a poop or a pee, as this could be dangerous for your unvaccinated puppy.

So before they are safe to mingle with other pupsters, how can you socialize them?

  • Let them meet as many people as possible.
  • Take them into lots of different environments.
  • Get them used to vacuum cleaners, mops, washing machines, music, mirrors, etc.
  • Take the puppy for rides in the car, let them look and smell out of the window.
  • Spend lots of time on basic obedience training

You may be limited with what you can do, but at least you can start the young pup’s socialization.

The more new experiences you can provide them with, the more confident and well-balanced they will be, and every little helps.

What About Socializing Your Puppy with People?

The same basic principles apply, taking it slowly, especially when they are young, having the puppy on a leash at first, etc.

You should also try to give them as many new experiences as possible.

For example, you can introduce them to people in cars, parks, your home, other homes, shops, etc.

You can also work with men, women, children, people wearing hats or sunglasses, people using walking sticks or in wheelchairs.

The more diversity and positive interactions puppies get used to, the more well-balanced they will be as they grow up.

NOTE – With all puppy training and especially socialization work, you should do your best to exhibit calm behavior as this will help influence the puppy’s state of mind.

Some Help from a Professional Dog Trainer

If you prefer to learn by video, this dog trainer has some great advice on basic obedience skills and socialization for young puppies.

A Final Note – if you want to read some really great, in-depth advice on animal behavior and puppy socialization from world-leading experts on the subject.

This downloadable PDF from the American Veterinary Medical Association (supported by the American Veterinary Society) has excellent advice.

All backed up by the latest scientific findings on the subject of early socialization for puppies.

So that is it for this short post. We hope that it helps improve your puppy’s life, lets them enjoy the company of other animals, and helps you to create positive associations for them with adult dogs.

As we said earlier, if you struggle, ask around for recommended dog trainers, dog training facilities, or a puppy class that offers socialization classes.

Good puppy socialization allows them to grow up into healthy dogs with no behavioral issues.

So well done for taking the time to learn about how to do it right, and thanks for stopping by to visit our site.

We cover all sorts of topics related to puppies and older dogs, so please feel free to look around.

happy healthy dogs