How Puppy Socialization and Training Can Help You Raise a Happy Dog
Imagine your dream dog. Well behaved, trained, playful and friendly probably comes to mind. The good news is, your dream dog is already laying at your feet!
Whether you’ve recently adopted a rambunctious fluff ball of joy, or are looking to level-up your adolescent or adult dog’s social game, a steady diet of mindful socialization and positive training can help your dog become a happy, well-adjusted member of your family and society.
From the moment they are born, puppies of all breeds, shapes, and sizes begin to soak up the stimuli surrounding them. Every experience – every site, smell, sound, and touch helps them to form their perception of the world and their place in it.
While you cannot control what your puppy experiences in their first days and weeks, or even months of life, you can start our their adopted life on the right paw. As a new pet parent, it is your responsibility to introduce your new dog to the world in a mindful, loving, and positive way.
While your dog will never outgrow curiosity and the ability to learn, there is a behavioral sweet spot between 8-16 weeks where puppies build their attitudes and impressions of the world that will shape the dog they will eventually become.
During this time, and continuing through adolescence, you should endeavor to expose your pup to as much of the world as you safely can. As long as you remain positive and supportive of your dog’s exploration, this guided discovery of the world will help your them to become less fearful and more accepting of the unknown as they grow.
Ideas for guided puppy socialization include:
- Introductions to all sorts of people, including men, women, children and teens, infants, the elderly, people of various ethnicities and abilities, delivery personnel, people wearing hats, people in uniforms, waitstaff, people using crutches or wheelchairs, and so on. The more the merrier!
- Exposure to other healthy pets, including dogs, cats, birds, and exotics of various ages, in various settings (at home, in the yard, out in public, etc.)
- Observation of wildlife and other animals; this could include calmly watching squirrels in the backyard, taking a short hike where your pup may spot a herd of deer on the hillside, or going to a farm where your pup can safely greet chickens, goats, and other critters.
- Going on short outings where they will be exposed to car rides, walking on busy sidewalks, navigating the world of bicycles, skateboards, scooters, motorcycles, and big trucks, etc.
- Experiencing new places, including social visits to the veterinarian, other people’s houses, pet stores, beaches, campgrounds, and anywhere else you may envision taking your dog.
- Supervised exposure to various household appliances, such as the vacuum cleaner, the coffee grinder, the lawn mower and weed-eater.
- Experiences with the doorbell, knocks at the door, people entering and leaving your home and yard, sprinklers and the hose, and other day to day activities
- Introductions to basic pet grooming, including the tooth brush, hairbrushes, running water (bathtub, shower, hose, etc), hair clippers, and blow dryers.
While this is, by no means, an exhaustive list, you get the idea – the more you can positively and safely expose your puppy too, the more accepting they will be of the world around them.
Likewise, your behavior toward your dog’s curiosity (and fear) will teach them volumes about how to approach the unknown as adult dogs. Patience and positivity will go far in helping your pup become the dog of your dreams.
Dog Training and Structured Play
In addition to your socialization efforts at home, your pup can begin basic training and socialization classes as early as 8-weeks of age.
Wagly Pet Campuses offer learning opportunities for young dogs that will facilitate a positive rapport between you both, while also teaching some foundational basics, such as ‘sit’, ‘stay’, and ‘come’.
As your dog’s socialization progresses, Wagly offers advanced training classes for dogs of all ages, designed to foster the human-animal bond while also teaching your dog the life skills needed to successfully navigate the world around them. Based on Wagly’s four pillars of care, to socialize, enrich, learn, and rejuvenate, our training and social programs focus on collaboration, positive communication, encouragement, and trust.
At Wagly, we also believe that learning isn’t just limited to the classroom and at-home experiences. Dogs need on-going social interactions with their peers, if they are going to live their best lives. Because of this, our Daycare Club has been designed to offer dogs the social connections they crave.
Wag(ly) the Dog
Whether you are living in California or Washington State, our team looks forward to meeting your new pup and introducing you both the socialization and training services we provide. Please don’t hesitate to call us with questions or to enroll in our programs. And while you’re on the phone, don’t forget to schedule that all-important puppy wellness check, so you and your new pup can begin to explore all the world has to offer!