A border collie patiently watching family eat

Congratulations on your decision to welcome a new puppy into your home! The responsibilities of puppy parenting are many, and puppy social training should be a top priority.

When it comes to pets, socialization means introducing them to new people, new experiences, and other animals, and the sooner you begin, the better. Dogs that are properly socialized from a young age have more confidence, adapt better to different settings and circumstances, and are less fearful of new experiences.

If you’re wondering how to socialize a puppy, read on for information from our team at Godspeed Animal Care.

When to Start Socializing a Puppy

The best time to start socializing your puppy is as soon as you bring him home. You can enroll him in puppy social training when he is just 7 or 8 weeks old. At your puppy’s first wellness visit, your veterinarian can discuss ways to safely socialize your puppy before he is fully vaccinated

The 4 Stages of Puppy Socialization

There are four key stages of socialization that are critical to your puppy’s success:

Stage 1: Primary Socialization occurs between 3 to 5 weeks when a puppy learns communication skills, impulse control, and appropriate play behaviors that only his mama and littermates can teach him.  

Stage 2: Secondary Socialization occurs between 6 and 12 weeks. Puppies begin to assert their independence but also develop fears of the unknown. This is when positive reinforcement is a must. Most puppies can be adopted when they are 7 to 8 weeks old, and this is when they can begin puppy socialization classes.

Stage 3: During Puberty (between 4 months and 15 months old), puppies test boundaries and display sexual behavior. Continue with puppy social training and make sure he has enough mental stimulation and exercise.

Stage 4: Once your dog’s growth has stopped (somewhere between 10 and 18 months), he is an Adolescent capable of learning complex commands, which will set him up for success as an adult dog.

How to Socialize a Puppy

When socializing a new puppy, take it slow, keep interactions positive, and provide plenty of praise and treats

Expose your puppy to new sights, sounds, smells, and surfaces by going for walks, taking training classes, and scheduling playdates with other puppy parents. Involve your dog in family get-togethers whenever possible, and allow children to play with your puppy in controlled, supervised settings. If your puppy displays signs of fear during any socialization activity, remove him from the situation. 

Handle your puppy on a regular basis, and let others in the household help with feeding and grooming. With appropriate socialization, your pup will feel like one of the pack in no time!

We can’t wait to meet your new puppy and treat him to a lifetime of exceptional care! Please contact us to schedule his first visit.