You know that saying “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks?” For the most part that is incorrect because you can teach or redirect a dog at any age new or better behaviors. However, where this saying comes true is with socialization. The experiences a puppy has during the first 12 weeks of his life will have a profound and unchangeable impact on his personality and social outlook for the rest of his life. This is called the critical socialization period because the effects of experiences (or lack of experiences) during this period cannot be changed later. You & your dog will live with the effects of the critical socialization period forever.
During the first 12 weeks, puppies should be safely exposed to new people, dogs, environments objects, sounds, & scents. Varied, positive social experiences go a long way towards raising a comfortable, confident puppy that can thrive in many different environments. A well-socialized puppy is usually seen as “a great family pet” that “I can trust” to “go anywhere” with me. Also, they are able to handle normal stress in his environment, can demonstrate self control, can demonstrate self-calming capabilities and can communicate effectively with other dogs.
A well-socialized puppy is much less likely to have serious fear or aggression during his lifetime.
So, with this said how do you do this? Take your puppy everywhere. Let him experience different people (men, women, children, men with hats on, people in uniforms, etc), different feels (grass, cloth, water, cement, tile, etc.). Also, different toys such as, soft, hard, squeaky, rope, balls of different sizes. Last but not least, as many other dogs as possible. I’ve heard it said 100 dogs in 100 days. However, a word of caution, make sure that you keep your puppy off the dirt because deadly viruses live in the dirt (parvo), and only around dogs that you either know or have been fully vaccinated.
Take your dog to puppy socialization groups or puppy kindergarten. That’s where I come in. Give me a call and lets get you started off on the right paw!