Pupstanding, from beloved and trusted Preventive Vet, was created to help you make raising your puppy a little easier.
Welcoming a puppy into your life is an exciting time — but it can also feel overwhelming! You want your puppy to grow up to be a well-behaved and confident dog that you can share your life with. There's potty training, crate training, puppy teething, puppy vaccinations, learning basic obedience ... where do you start?
Socializing your puppy should be your top priority during the first few months of their life.
When your puppy is between 8 to 16 weeks old, they're in what's called an "imprint period." The things they experience during this time stick with them for life! Their brain is making strong associations between what's happening around them and they are determining whether it's awesome, not a big deal, or downright scary.
By breaking experiences down into "bite-sized" pieces, you can help your puppy learn that different sounds, sights, surfaces, and being handled aren't scary at all. But you will also want to take it slow. The last thing you want is to overwhelm or "flood" your puppy with too much, too fast. This can result in what's called "learned helplessness" which will increase their fear or nervousness.
You can build a strong foundation for socialization with quick and easy puppy socialization exercises included in the app. By focusing on building that foundation during the imprint period, when your puppy is old enough to go places like the local coffee shop, farmer's market, or grooming salon, they're less likely to feel overwhelmed.
Preventive training is always better than reactive training — don't wait to get started socializing your puppy!
Socialization is more than just meeting other dogs and new people
In fact, interacting with dogs and people is just a small fraction of socialization for puppies. Introducing your puppy to the items in the list will help them learn that different sounds, sights, tactile experiences, seeing new people or animals, and being handled are all things not to worry about! PLUS, your puppy will learn how to focus on you around new and exciting things.
Socializing your puppy helps prevent problem behaviors
Lack of early socialization can cause problem behavior issues such as:
• Leash reactivity
• Fear aggression
• Difficulty being handled at the veterinarian or groomer
• Noise sensitivity and phobias
• Scared of strangers or other dogs
Work through the interactive list and check off what you expose your dog to as you explore the world together.
In the app, you can see how many items you've checked off and how many items are in each rating category. If you're noticing a lot of "Meh!" or "Hated It!" grades, focus on addressing those particular items in a systematic and positive way. Connecting with a certified dog trainer can help you to tackle potential fears before they become a long-term issue for your puppy.
Socialization is about continued proactive exposure, so once you've checked off an item as "Loved it!" it doesn't mean you shouldn't revisit that item again. Strengthen your puppy's socialization foundations by continuing their positive associations with familiar items.
Puppy, training, socialization, imprint period, checklist, fear aggression, noise sensitivity, phobias