How-To: Socializing Your Puppy or Dog (Video)

Photo by Kevin Duggan |

Photo by Kevin Duggan |

Socialization is something that is often preached about when you have a dog. In fact, it is something I cover with all of my clients regardless of why I am there. This is because of how important it really is.

Socialization is about building associations with things that the pup will come across in everyday life. The goal is to set them up so that they have positive or good associations with these things. The concept of how this is done is actually pretty simple; it's just about doing it and making sure that nothing bad happens in the process. The overall idea is to make sure your pup receives things it enjoys while encountering everyday stuff. (e.g. people, places, trucks, etc.)

The first thing that you need to do is find something that your pup loves. It is easiest to use small food rewards for this. (e.g. cheese, hot dogs, real meat, etc.) The second thing you need to do is find some environments that have different things in there for your dog to come across. When searching for the right environment for this, it's important to start off with places that aren't too overwhelming. (You'll want to avoid county fairs etc.) (Check out the video below to see more about choosing the right environments.)

Once you've found the thing your dog loves and some environments, you're ready to get started. The goal is to pair the stuff that your pup is going to come across, with good stuff. So as you're walking with your pup you'll want to have your treats ready. As soon as something happens like a person walks by, or a truck drives by, your going to want to start giving your pup those treats. Timing is important. You want to give the treat right after the potentially scary thing appears.

When doing this socialization it's important not to "flood" your pup. Flooding is when you overwhelm a dog with things and have the mentality that they should just "deal with it." An example would be taking a dog that is weary of humans and placing it in a room full of them. This will often result in a dog that is extremely frightened and could easily lead to a bite. Remember to always introduce new things in small increments with plenty of awesome stuff that your pup loves. Here are some things that you want to socialize your dog to:

-People (Different shapes, sizes, and skin color.)

-Dogs (Different shapes, sizes, and colors.)

-Noises (Vacuums, trucks, trains, etc.)

-Environments (Lots of different places.)

-Surfaces (Walking on bricks, wood, cement, tile etc.)

Check out the video below for a great visual, or click here!

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Positively Expert: Kevin Duggan

Kevin is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers and is a Canine Good Citizen Evaluator through the American Kennel Club. He currently resides in Ohio , where he operates All Dogs Go To Kevin, LLC.


3 thoughts on “How-To: Socializing Your Puppy or Dog (Video)

  1. Jess

    How old is the puppy in the video? I thought it was encouraged to not to take puppy out in public park until they receive all vaccination.

  2. A Better Dog

    Thankfully, a change of attitude has begun about the timing of socialization versus vaccinations. To delay socialization until after final vaccinations at 16 weeks means that crucial developmental stages relating to socialization and fear will have been missed... and once the door closes on a developmental stage, it cannot be re-opened.

    Studies indicate that a dog's life is much more likely to be at risk due to the consequences of being under-socialized (eg: bite incidents, etc.), than becoming ill from pre-vaccination exposure to disease. Anecdotally, I have heard a number of veterinarians and veterinary-behaviourists reiterate this opinion.

  3. A Better Dog

    It certainly wouldn't be wise to take the pup into an off-leash park setting, but a structured on-leash walk in a public park (as shown in the video - being able to explore a little, but mostly staying on the path) should be okay.

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