Puppy Socialization: Tips from Puppy Training Experts

With a whole world of things for your puppy to learn and her seemingly endless amount of energy, training your puppy is no easy task!

Puppies are learning quickly about the world around them, and, at the same time, they are learning how things work in your home. That means, of course, they will get into a bit of mischief--some more often than others! 

During this period of formation, it can be tricky to navigate those moments of misbehavior. Do you “punish” your puppy or simply reward the good behaviors? Is a puppy training class necessary? What exactly does it mean to socialize a puppy, anyway?

Puppy socialization means that you expose your dog to people, situations, and other dogs that he is likely to encounter while you are out enjoying your time together. Early on, socialization is structured and purposeful so that your puppy is prepared to navigate new, unstructured situations as she gets older without fear or aggression. 

Keep in mind that it is important to start socializing early, but it is equally as important to make sure your puppy is up-to-date on his vaccinations before being around other dogs in order to protect all the dogs involved.

We went to the experts to round up their best tips for training and socializing your puppy. We’ve got tips straight from the experts.

 

Puppy Socialization & Separation Anxiety

  • "Puppies have a small window of time (between 3 and 12 months) in which they'll be soaking up everything they are exposed to. This is the prime socialization period. During this period, take your dog out to meet other pups and people, and expose them to as much as possible! Not exposing your dog to stimuli during this period means that, when they meet those stimuli for the first time as adults, their instinct will be to be afraid. You'll need to work 3 times as hard to reverse those feelings of fear later on."

(Meg Marrs; Founder, Dog Trainer, & Dog Care Expert; K9 of Mine)

 

  • "Introduce your puppy to all types of new people, places, animals, sights, sounds, surfaces and moving objects in a happy, fun way that’s not overwhelming. Pair new experiences with treats, happy talk and play!"

(Jessica Ring, CPDT-KA, CTC, PMCT; Trainer/Owner, My Fantastic Friend, LLC)

 

  • "Your puppy should meet 100 new dogs and people within his first three months of living with you. Making the most of this early time in his life is crucial to ensure he will become a well-balanced, social dog."

(Steffi Trott, Owner & Head Trainer, SpiritDog Training)

 

  • "Teach your pup to enjoy body handling, grooming and veterinary procedures now, for a healthier dog and a lifetime of more enjoyable experiences for both of you. Break each procedure down into small steps. Practice each step, followed by a yummy treat, and repeat until your pup can’t wait for you to do it again!"

(Jessica Ring, CPDT-KA, CTC, PMCT; Trainer/Owner, My Fantastic Friend, LLC)

 

Puppy Training Classes

  • "Find local puppy training classes; they make obedience training easier as puppies observe other dogs behaving and try to emulate it. They reduce the likelihood of naughty behavior and potential fights and normalize being around other dogs and people to the point where he sees dogs and humans as friendly as a default."

(Ronnie Lawson-Jones, https://www.jugdog.co.uk/)


 

How to Discipline a Puppy’s Bad Behavior

  • "If you are going to be punishing your dog when it misbehaves during training, make sure it is short and right after the incident. If you wait longer to punish your dog, it won't know what it did wrong, and it may cause your dog to misbehave more."

(Sarah Rodgers, Brookside Pomskies)

 

  • "If your puppy is barking out of fear over a person or object, focus on helping them with their fear issue rather than training them not to express their fear. You can also teach a quiet command--when your dog is barking you can give them the new ‘quiet command’ and reward that behavior."

(Nicole Ellis, certified professional dog trainer and pet lifestyle expert, Rover.com)

 

  • "The best way to treat jumping up is to turn your back on them and ignore them until they've settled down. You shouldn't get mad at them for this, just ignore them and then reward them when they're calmer."

(Cindy Kelly, Owner, Regis Regal German Shepherds)

 

  • "When the puppy inevitably chews something they shouldn’t, immediately replace it with an item they SHOULD be chewing on, like a Kong or a Nylabone."

(Christine Ciana Calabrese, Author, What About the Dog?)

 

How to Discipline a Puppy for Biting

  • "It’s natural for puppies to bite. What’s important is that they learn bite inhibition so that they understand boundaries when they are older. Yell “OW!” really loudly whenever they bite you. This gives them a shock, and will also teach them to be gentler and avoid biting you in the future."

(Jeff Carbridge, Dog Trainer/Expert at DogOwner.co.uk)

 

  • "To encourage puppies not to bite hands, try butter! By gently spreading a tiny amount of butter over your fingers, your puppy will be inclined by the flavor and lick your hands, instead of biting them."

(Shawn Hostetter, President, Keystone Puppies)

 

Puppies are obviously cute and charming, but they’re also sometimes mischievous. Thankfully, when you get a puppy early on and begin working on puppy socialization skills, you are actually at an advantage. YOU get to be the original teacher for your puppy, instead of having to train your older dog out of bad habits he has already learned.

With these tips, you can manage those negative behaviors with strategies that you already know are effective!

It may feel like a lot of responsibility in the beginning, but putting the work in to training and socializing your puppy well early-on will only benefit you and your dog in the long run. With tricky things like navigating behaviors established, you can get right on to building a strong, lifelong bond with your dog.

 

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