You just got a new puppy and have never had a dog before in your life, not even when you were a little child!  Are puppies different than dogs?  Where should we begin?

Socializing your puppy is critical for their good behavior

Your puppy is just so cuddly and pretty!  How could he do anything bad or do anything that you wouldn’t like?  The breeder said that all he wanted to do was to give love and happiness!

Well, that is a wonderful thought, but now the puppy belongs to you. You now have a large responsibility to your puppy to make him feel safe, loved, and part of your family.  

Puppies have special training requirements that are in addition to the training requirements of older dogs.  This is the first of several training blogs that will discuss training that is unique to these super cute “bundles of canine joy”.

In this article I am going to discuss “socialization” for your puppy.  To put it in simple terms, this is the act of getting him happy and calm with all the stuff around him.  His environment is made up of people, cars, the market, the vet hospital, strangers, other animals, the vacuum cleaner, and many other things.  He needs to understand that they are all OK and actually good for him.  What we must do is to put him in a situation where he can learn that all these things are fine and he should feel safe around them.

Here is my standard list  “puppy socialization things” I have been supplying my clients for years:

  • People with…
    • Canes
    • Crutches
    • Wheelchairs
    • Baby Stroller
    • Shopping cart
    • Luggage
  • People doing…
    • Jogging
    • Working
    • Limping
    • Driving
    • Swimming
  • Home Environment
    • Phone ringing
    • Doorbell
    • Vacuum Cleaner
    • Dish Washer
    • Hair Dryer
    • Repair people
    • Pool Man
  • Environments
    • Vet Clinic
    • Car
    • Kennel
    • Groomer
    • Pet Store
    • Crowds
    • School
  • Vehicles
    • Motorcycles
    • Trucks
    • Cars
    • Bicycles
  • Sounds
    • Thunder
    • Fireworks
    • Loud Noise
    • Siren

Some puppies are just naturally fine with many of these thins and some are scared of all of them.  It is your trial and error to see which things you will need to work on.  Remember that the goal is to take small steps in introducing your puppy to these things so he feels comfortable around them.  Your presence will also build your position of the one keeping him safe.

I will give you two examples:

The Vacuum Cleaner: One of you will have your puppy at one end of the house on a leash with some toys and/or goodies.  Another person will have the vacuum cleaner at the other end of the house on a long extension cord.  That person will then switch on the vacuum cleaner.  The person with the puppy will be distracting him at that moment.  As you see that your puppy is calm and giving you focus, slowly (and I mean slowly) have the other person move the vacuum cleaner closer to you and your puppy.  Constantly keep your puppy’s focus on you.  Watch very carefully to see if be is becoming scared.  If he is, stop the exercise and start again tomorrow.  You have gone as far as needed.  Tomorrow you will try and get the vacuum cleaner a little closer to you and your puppy.

The Car: Your goal is to make sure your puppy is fine with a car ride.  You start this by having your puppy sitting in the car while it is in the driveway.  Have some toys and goodies for your puppy while he and you are in the car.  Have the engine running and radio on. 

Once you have done this for a few days, have someone back the car out and drive it around the block while you and your puppy are playing in the back seat.  If this is going well, take your puppy with you on longer trips to the store, school, park, etc.  If, at any time, he shows that he is becoming scared, slow it down and back up one level.

Also, and this is very important, it is critical that your puppy is properly secured while in your car.  Get your puppy a harness.  When you put him in the car, take the seat belt and insert that through the harness. It is best if you only allow your puppy to ride in the back seat.  Your puppy is never allowed to ride on your lap or stick his head out the window.

Don’t forget that the most important part of “socialization” is to get your puppy accommodated to the world around him at an early age.  Successfully accomplishing this will make him feel far safer and happier.  It will also make your life a lot easier.

Please call Robin or me at (770) 718-7704 if you need any dog training help.  We are blessed to have been your local dog training professionals for over fifteen years.  We have trained over 5,000 great dogs and loving families and are ready to help you.