socializing your new puppy

Turning your pup into a social butterfly

Bringing your new pup home will be filled with endless excitement as your puppy goes through a lot of firsts. Help make experiences with new people, pets, and places as positive as possible by socializing your pup.

Puppy playing with friend GIF

What does “socialized” mean?

A well-socialized pup is one that gets along well with all different types of people, other dogs, and other species, like cats. This may take time, effort, and a whole lot of patience on your end. No puppy is perfect and some will adjust quicker than others. Ideally, exposure to people and other dogs should start when your pup is 4-6 months old, and be properly maintained for the rest of their lives. While socializing is lifelong process, the most sensitive period is during the initial 6 months of life. Take advantage of this time to develop proper routines to set your little one up for success.

Vector graphic of a bone, a rope, and a tennis ball

How to socialize your pup

  • Introduce your puppy to new people each week in the first 16 weeks of life.
  • Read your puppy’s body language to watch that they’re having a good time — that their body is relaxed, with ears up, and tail up and wagging.
  • Identify a favorite reward for your pup’s good social behavior. This can be a special toy, treat, or pets and rubs.
  • When you introduce your puppy to someone new, have the new person give them their favorite reward. Include all different kinds of people in this process. including different ages, genders, ethnicities, clothing types, etc.
  • Consider enrolling your puppy in a puppy obedience and socialization class.
  • Well behaved, healthy, vaccinated pets can meet and play with your puppy, so long as they’re supervised.
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How not to socialize your pup

  • Don’t overwhelm your puppy. If your pup is growling, has their tail between their legs, is retreating backwards, and so on, you have gone too far. It’s important to adjust to these circumstances so that your puppy is comfortable.
  • Don’t physically discipline your puppy by hitting, swatting or rubbing their face in a mess. These techniques are harmful and may negatively affect your puppy’s future relationship with you, other people, or pets.
  • Don’t take your young puppy to high-risk disease areas like parks, rest stops or places with stray dogs. Once your puppy is fully vaccinated, wait until they are around 16-20 weeks of age before introducing them to parks.
  • When you introduce your pup to a new environment, like a park, for the first time, use vocal commands at the beginning of the visit to help them focus on your voice. This both helps them not to get overwhelmed, and to learn to obey in strange environments.
Two dogs playing on an open field

Properly socializing your puppy at an early age can help develop the ability for your pup to have healthy relationships with others as they grow and mature. Timewise, socialization should start happening when they’re between 4 to 6 months of age (once they’ve completed their vaccine series, of course).

How Banfield can help

We wish your pup a happy and healthy life. If you run into any special circumstances, suspect a health issue, or need any more information on bringing a new puppy home, reach out to your local Banfield veterinary team.

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