Puppy Socialization

To Ensure that Puppies in Your Care are Friendly and Well-Adjusted:
  • Socialize the puppy with both people and other animals
  • Introduce the puppy to a wide range of events, environments and situations

All animals, including dogs, have a window of opportunity at the start of their lives during which they learn to accept things around them so they are not afraid of them later in life. In puppies, this window of opportunity closes at about 12-14 weeks of age. Most things that are encountered during this time will be tolerated, or even enjoyed. After the window closes, unfamiliar people, objects and experiences are approached with caution, and the puppy may become fearful. In fact, the most common cause of fear and aggression is lack of socialization.

In an animal centre environment, it is crucial to take advantage of this window of opportunity to offer the puppy plenty of novel experiences and interactions with people. Keep these interactions short and frequent so as not to tire out the puppy. Include the following in your daily Dog Enrichment Schedule, accompanied with food rewards, and praise:

Gentle Handling
  • Touching head, ears, mouth, neck area, tail, paws and legs
  • Grooming for one minute with a soft brush
  • Placing and removing a collar and lead
  • Restraining gently for a few seconds, releasing if puppy struggles
  • Using food rewards and praise to positively reinforce the puppy’s acceptance of the handling
Meeting People:
  • People of all ages
  • Loud, confident people
  • People wearing hats, helmets or glasses
  • People in uniform
  • Men with beards/facial hair
  • Use play with a toy such as a ball or squeaky toy to encourage a positive encounter
  • Use food rewards and praise the puppy
  • Stop the encounter if the puppy displays signs of anxiety or fear
Meeting Other Animals:
  • Adult dogs that are tolerant to puppies
  • Cats, rabbits, and other pets if available
  • Allow play if supervised and safe to do so
Objects to Play with Under Supervision Such As:
  • Cardboard box
  • Child’s toy bucket
  • Treat ball
  • Large stuffed toy
  • Empty plastic bottle
Objects to Chew Under Supervision Such As:
  • Nylon bones
  • Rawhide chews
  • Strong toys (e.g. KONG®)
  • Hard biscuits
  • Ice cubes
Surfaces to Walk On:
  • Clean grass
  • Slippery surfaces such as linoleum or tiles
  • Steps or staircase
  • Variety of floor surfaces such as carpet or concrete
  • Irregular surfaces such as gravel, stones or pebbles
Sounds: (CD Available for “Life Sounds”)
  • Television or radio
  • Loud voices such as yelling or a baby crying
  • Thunder
  • Vehicular sounds such as cars, motorcycles, sirens, horns
  • Small engine sounds such as lawnmowers and chainsaws
  • Household appliances such as vacuum cleaner or blender
  • Play audio CD of life sounds listed above
  • Go for a car ride
  • Visit the park
  • Walk on a busy street
  • Taste a variety of foods
  • Spend time alone for short periods
  • Spend time in a crate

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