Ask a Dog Expert: Socializing a Puppy

Q – I have a new 9-week old puppy, and I have heard mixed reviews about socializing him at this age. What do you suggest? If I do decide to start socializing him, what is the best way to do so?

A – This is a great question! There are different points of view about this topic, but most recent science points toward YES, socialize your puppy early. Socialization means getting them familiarized with many different smells, sounds, environments, kinds of people, and other animals. Poorly socialized dogs are much more likely to react with fear or aggression to unfamiliar people, dogs and experiences.

As long as your dog has had his first set of vaccinations, and his overall temperament seems good (if you are unsure, please ask for a consult first from one of our trainers), you may start socializing him in safe environments. Please note that this does NOT include going to the dog park (yet) since you don’t know what other dogs will be there. A safe environment means meeting up with friends who have another dog who is mellow, demonstrates good behaviour that your puppy can learn from, and is fully vaccinated. You can also bring them to a puppy socialization class, which is highly supervised, and a trainer is there to go over proper play etiquette. Take it easy, and take baby steps so that your dog doesn’t get overwhelmed. Bring tasty treats with you everywhere, so that you can offer them when they seem uncomfortable or need encouragement in any situation. Have fun exploring this exciting world with your puppy!

Please email if you have any further questions.