Many think it means bringing your puppy to the dog park or having them meet other dogs or people. While some of that is true, it is only a small fragment of what TRUE socialization is.
True Socialization involves the game of 8’s:
- Flooring: wood, tiles, concrete, grass, snow, sand, tar
- Feeding: different treats, in different rooms
- Toys: balls, tug toys, frisbee, soft chew, nylabones, kong toys
- People: short, tall, old, young, big, small, different ages, different ethnicities, beards, hats, sunglasses, big coats
- Environments: beach, fields, houses, buildings, woods, city, lakes, rivers, weather conditions, your workplace
- Dogs: find appropriate dogs who play well or have been around puppies previously as well as other puppies their age. Be sure to always monitor play and step in when things get a little rough.
- Things: objects you use daily, motorcycle, lawn mower, umbrella, four-wheeler, vacuum cleaner, blender, shovel, wheel barrel gardening tools
- Situations: the vet, the groomer, other people watching your dog, boarding or daycare facility
For the environment: playing with them or using food helps to distract and build confidence
For people: coach people on how to say hello to your puppy – let the puppy approach and scratch the chest or pet slowly and softly.
For things: either leave the object where it is, use food to hansel and grettle them up to it, or go up to it and encourage the dog to investigate on their own.
For situations: start at home when you have time, slowly playing with the paws, checking their mouth (lifting the lips), crating the dog, have friends with dogs you know are good dogs come over for a play date.
When it comes to socializing a dog to things they may be scared of, your awareness of distance and proximity is everything to help the dog. The biggest thing you want to focus on when it comes to socializing your dog is what you want your dog to be comfortable with in regards to your daily life, routine, activities and so on. How/when will you include the dog in your daily activities. You’d be surprised what your dog can join you on if you socialize them properly, early on.
- When socializing your puppy make sure to bring food/treats and a toy! The food helps motivate the puppy and the toy helps them to focus on a game instead.
- Your proximity to people, places and things is what matters most to your puppy being comfortable or uncomfortable. If it is too much for the puppy, create distance. If the puppy is okay then you can get closer!