Early socialization is SO important for your puppy so that he can become a well rounded, confident dog. Before you even meet your baby, we begin working on this. At two days old my kids are allowed to start handling each puppy several times a day. This gets them used to human contact right away. The puppies spend time each day playing with the kids, being handled by my husband and myself and meeting new people, like my parents, the neighbors and all of you. Once they are three to four weeks old they begin to be allowed to interact with my adult dogs other than their mothers. It helps them learn appropriate behaviors when they meet new dogs later in life. This is all great experience for them! The more new people they meet and have positive interactions with the more they learn to associate new people with good things. This is vital if you want your dog to behave well in social settings.
As a breeder/trainer, I cannot stress enough how important it is for you to keep this up once your puppy goes home. Obviously I don’t want you to run home and take your brand new puppy immediately to the dog park. For that you’ll have to wait until he is fully vaccinated. However, as soon as your veterinarian clears your puppy for a training class or trips to the park, start taking him. It’s the best thing you can do for him. No one wants to have a dog who is fearful of new people, aggressive toward other dogs and us unable to accompany them in public. That is exactly what you’ll get if you don’t actively socialize your pet.
Case in point, I have a 5 year old male poodle that came to me as an adult. He was NOT properly socialized as a pup and because of that he is extremely fearful, to the point of aggressive behaviors, with strangers. We have worked with him on this issue but it has been very slow going and he is still not accepting of new people in most cases. It limits him severely as I can’t take him to the park with us or on hikes because I am unable trust his reaction to new people or situations. He desperately wants to go for car rides and loves to be with us but I have to be hyper vigilant when we take him places to ensure his safety and everyone else’s. Not an ideal situation for dog or owner and one I don’t want any of you to have to deal with.
“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.”
To that end, the word of the day is SOCIALIZE, SOCIALIZE, SOCIALIZE!! Invite friends over to meet your pup and play with him. Offer him a small treat and a praise when he greets new people politely. When he’s ready, take him to a training class or for walks at the park where he will meet all kinds of new people and dogs. The more social situations you put him in the more comfortable he will be heading out to the family barbeque or the park with you and the more sure you will be that you have a friendly, confident dog who is reliable in public.