A lot of people think ‘Socialization’ is dogs playing together. This is just a very small piece of socializing your puppy/dog. Socialization is the exposure to new sights, sounds, smells. Basically, it’s giving your dog new experiences.
The prime period in a dog’s life for socializing is 8 weeks-16 weeks. Take your puppy someplace new frequently. You can go to a store parking lot and stand outside your car with your puppy to let them see, smell everything going on.
You don’t have to be in the thick of it–park way back from the store entrance. If your puppy is overwhelmed then give more distance or even a break. Introductions to new things can be intimidating for many puppies so go slow, give lots of distance and watch to see how your particular puppy acts. This can help you going forward with training and additional socialization.
Always remember that just like humans every puppy is different. Some may be social butterflies and some may be homebodies. Both are absolutely ok and you should avoid trying to ‘make’ your puppy something they’re not.
Vets may say “Don’t take your puppy anywhere until they’ve had all the rounds of shots” but they don’t mean keep your dog in the house. Avoid dog parks and other places where there may be unvaccinated dogs, but DO take them out and about for the exposure to new things. Friends, family, neighbors with vaccinated dogs are a great resource for the dog-dog socializing.
Click HERE for a fantastic socialization chart and HERE for the AVSAB position on socialization.
Give your puppy a leg (or paw) up by socializing them and you may avoid difficult behavior issues later.