When you get a puppy, the single most important thing to do is properly socialize your new family member. This is very important because it will help prevent undesired behaviors such as reactivity or aggression as well as reduce stress or anxiety to new things as they get older. Most behavioral issues stem from a lack of socialization in the first year of your puppies life. Make sure to take them to as many places as possible like dog parks, dog daycare centers, or even pet friendly stores. The more people and dogs they meet, the less scary it is when a new person or dog is encountered.
Dog daycares are a great option because there are lots of dogs and staff that your puppy will meet on a daily basis. The other great thing about daycares is that the play groups are staffed to ensure all dogs are playing properly. Even if you don’t need to leave your dog at daycare, it has the benefit of socializing your dog with other dogs that you may not have time to do. A good frequency for daycare is 2-3 times per week for proper socialization.
Dog parks don’t have knowledgeable staff to ensure proper play so make sure when you go to a dog park you ALWAYS watch your dog. Parks are great to provide a lot of space for your puppy to run and play but can be dangerous if unwatched. If you feel uncomfortable with certain dogs or owners there, then try to go at a different day or time. There are lots of different dog parks with different people and dogs so feel free to try several and decide which one is best for you and your puppy.
Pet friendly stores are another great option for socializing with people. Make sure to keep your dog under control as they meet new people. Always ask someone first before letting your dog go up to greet them. One important thing to remember is to not let your dog go up to meet every single person or dog. Then your puppy will think they always get to meet whoever they run towards and this problem can quickly spiral out of control or lead to behavioral issues when they don’t get to meet someone. These stores can also be a great opportunity for training and exposure to new or intimidating environments. Our favorites here at Seek are stores like Home Depot, Bass Pro, and PetSmart.
If you want a socialization boost for your puppy, all dogs in our Board and Train programs get taken on daily outings to stores and parks where we teach proper greeting skills. Reach out today to sign up!