So you just brought home an adorable puppy! How fun! There are lots of learning curves here that you and your loved ones will face together. The first 16 weeks of a puppy are said to be some of the most important when learning how to adapt and learn behavior. It's important that although we are trying to be safe with social distancing, that we still allow the puppy to socialize and experience the change in environment, textures and surfaces.
First let's understand the goals of socialization. We need to know that socializing a new puppy means that you are helping the puppy build confidence in the surroundings. It's important not to overwhelm the puppy with loud noises, and lots of different things all at once. You want to slowly introduce different environments so the puppy starts recognizing it is a normal and it will start learning positive behaviors. It's important. that we act in a positive manner when we are introducing these new things so that it is a positive experience.
The first couple months are what shape their personalities and temperament. Be sure to have your puppy vaccinated prior to socialization with any other dogs. So be sure to call the vet to schedule the first round of shots.
Understanding Different Varieties of Exposures
Surface Exposures: Different flooring in the house, introducing stairs, outside surfaces such as grass, leaves, concrete. Introducing these things little by little so the puppy can learn how to move about them. Let your puppy go up the stairs so he or she learns and have a treat at the end as a positive.
Noise Exposures: Think of all the things you run in your home on daily basis; dishwasher, washer & dryer, hair dryer, tv, blender...can't forget running the vacuum. Always have some treats on hand to give when you are doing and using these things.
Social Exposures: First you can arrange a play date with a neighbor or friend who also has a dog or puppy. Starting off with one or two dogs would be best until you feel that your puppy is comfortable with those dogs.
Once you feel your puppy is comfortable and reacting positive to the different exposures, start getting them more involved with other people and places out side of the home. It is important to take baby steps, so you don't overwhelm and overstimulate your puppy.
Different Socialization Ideas:
1. Sign-up for puppy classes. Don't forget to bring your vaccination records as most places require it. The classes will help your puppy learn and understand the basic commands but also will help expose your puppy to other people and dogs.
2. Dog Parks: Dog parks are a great resource and we have many in our community. They typically have a big and small dog section that is all fenced in. Some may not - so check ahead of time. Also make sure you bring water just in case, but most of the parks do have water there. To name a few and their addresses:
Plain Township Veteran's Dog Park
1714 Schneider St NE Canton, OH 44721
Canal Fulton Dog Park
5500 Butterbridge Road NW Canal Fulton, OH 44614
Portage Lakes State Park- Dog Park (enter through state park entrance)
5031 Manchester Road, Akron OH 44319
3. Groomer: Take your puppy to the groomer for their first interaction. Typically the groomer will bath and brush your puppy until their coat grows in more. This is important so your puppy starts to get familiar with the person who will help play a large part in caring for him
4. Walking Trails: Walking will help get your puppy used to exercising and being active. It will also help introduce him or her to other people, animals and environment. You are taking your puppy out of his comfort zone. Be prepared to get stopped lots of times!
Did you know?
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) notes that behavioral issues, not infectious diseases, are the number one cause of relinquishment to shelters and cause of death for dogs under 3 years of age.
We hope you have fun getting to know your puppy. Take a look at a helpful video " Mistakes to Avoid" during your puppy's 1st few nights.