The PAWS Blog

Stumped About Pet Socializing? Here’s Where You Must Begin

Young animals, including puppies, are easy to socialize. Since they are curious and trusting, they can interact with their environment without displaying anxious behavior. Young animals are also easier to convince to try new things—a puppy will be able to adapt to a new home quicker than an older dog. At some point, animals naturally become more suspicious of things they have not yet experienced.

How old should puppies be for socialization?

The best dog training is exposing the puppy to new experiences when it is between three to 12 weeks old. At this stage, puppies can accept new information quickly. After this, they get wary of novel experiences.

After 12 to 18 weeks, the window for easily socializing your puppy closes, and it becomes harder to get them used to new things. You might not be able to get a dog to enjoy an activity he does not enjoy. At this stage, it can be impossible to get them comfortable with something that had frightened or alarmed them in the past.

Why should I socialize my puppy?

Puppies that are well-socialized become relaxed dogs. You can bring them to different environments and have them encounter a wider range of situations because they are less anxious. If you are successful in training your dog, they will be less aggressive or fearful of new people and other animals they encounter outside.

Honking cars, cyclists, stray animals, other people’s pets, and crowds will not bother them. They will also not be fussy about veterinary visits, staying in restaurants, or being in another home. Apart from being good for your dog’s emotional health, their calmness will also put other people around you at ease.

Note, though, that this is a long-term project. Socializing needs planning. You have to set aside time to expose them to various stimuli and situations they will commonly encounter because of your lifestyle. For some dogs, that means getting used to the sound of trains running over tracks. For others, it is about dealing with the sounds of poultry, livestock, or wild animals.

The basics of socializing a puppy

Make sure that each dog training session leaves your puppy more confident than the last one. For example, if you planned a large get-together to help your dog get used to friends and their pets, your dog might not react the way you want. At least, not without proper scaffolding; maybe you could first introduce them to just one person or pet, and then gradually increase the number.

Closely monitor your puppy’s reaction to the new stimuli. It will help you gauge if they can have more interactions or if it is time to wrap up for the day. Remember to end every socialization experience with a r