So you’ve got a new little dog/puppy in your life and you want to make sure that your pup grows up to be a delightful, manageable and well behaved companion. Now is the time to get the fundamentals of puppy training and socialization right so you will have a happy best friend for years to come.

The goal of good puppy socialization is to get your young pet accustomed to all kinds of situations and environments, so you’ll end up with an adult dog, not distressed by busy settings or when encountering new situations. A properly socialized puppy becomes a well-adjusted adult dog who is your companion wherever you go, and whose behavior you won’t have to worry about.

Here are some tips and steps for good puppy socialization so that your furry little pal can become a well-behaved adult dog.

1. Start the Socialization Process When Your Puppy is Young

The best time to socialize your new puppy is to start before the puppy is even three months old. Older dogs who were not adequately socialized when they were young tend to experience more issues with anxiety and fear of new things, so you want to make this initial impressionable time for them count. For starters, allow plenty of freedom to explore all kinds of new things. A puppy is going to be fascinated by almost everything they encounter so be prepared to share in the fun. But keep in mind that young puppies often use their mouths as a tool to explore new things so be careful of any potentially dangerous or valuable objects.

Puppy socialization is important and should not be overlooked or ignored. If you don’t have the time in your family’s schedule to get your puppy started with the adequate socialization, consider professional puppy training to jump start the process.

2. Make the Socialization Process Positive

In order for the socialization process to be effective it needs to be a positive experience for your puppy. Teach your puppy to enjoy new things without fear by giving lots of praise and well-timed treats to build a positive association. Plan good outings or puppy play dates that won’t be overwhelming and that end positively. Don’t let your puppies’ first memories of car rides be ones that end at the vet’s office.

Remember that a negative experience can leave a lasting impression on your puppy. An encounter with an aggressive older dog could be a setback in the process so do your best to set up successful situations.

Dogs are very receptive to how you are feeling so if you are excessively nervous when bringing your puppy out in public or introducing another dog, that will be picked up and result in nervous behavior. You might be surprised at how aware your new best friend is of your own comfort zone!

3. Work Your way up to Busier Situations and Settings

Start the socialization process slowly with baby steps toward busier or more complex situations. Don’t take your puppy into busy public settings until there has been plenty of positive experiences in less busy spaces. You also need to ensure that interactions with your new pup is limited to close friends and family until after being fully vaccinated. Until then public settings like parks and stores should be off limits. Keep outings short and work up to longer ones so there’s no negative association. Introduce car rides slowly, beginning with just sitting in a parked car before taking short rides that end with a treat and lots of praise and somewhere fun.

Once your puppy is comfortable with different members of your family, go for walks or taking your puppy over to a friend’s house or yard. Seek out public but not busy places where your puppy can be around other people and pets but not be so close to them as to feel nervous or insecure. Once comfortable with simpler settings, your dog can be introduced to settings with a little more complexity.

4. Seek out All Kinds of People, Places and Other Puppies

To ensure your puppy grows up into a confident adult, you want to introduce different people, pets, smells and settings. Kids, elderly people, disabled people, men in baseball caps, other animals and even all kinds of objects/textures and smells are things you should seek out during socialization training. As with all new puppy experiences, be mindful to start off slowly and gradually, adding new distractions so as not to overwhelm your young puppy.

5. Consider Getting Help from a Professional Dog Trainer

Puppy socialization can be an intimidating task when you consider the lifelong effects on your dog if not done in a timely and proper manner. For a fully confident and well behaved dog you might do best to seek out some professional help. Puppy training at Breakthrough K9 Training is a safe and controlled setting with a professional present to monitor interactions with other dogs. These classes also teach basic commands and polite behavior.