Getting a new puppy is definitely exciting, but it can be a lot of hard work to get your puppy used to its new environment. Socialization is important for any puppy to get used to being around other dogs and people, but it’s just as important for pet owners as well. If your dog isn’t socialized successfully, it could make it harder to bond with a dog that would otherwise be your new best friend.

If you have a new pup in the house, here’s some basic information you should about socializing a new puppy.

The First Week with a New Puppy

Before the puppy arrives, everyone in your home should sit down and agree to a socialization plan. This is also a great excuse to start puppy-proofing your home, both for the safety of your many chewable possessions and the dog itself.

Many puppies will whine during their first few nights in a new home, and it’s important not to give into the temptation to comfort them in the middle of the night or let them sleep in your room. During this first week, you need to establish two basic things:

  • Set a schedule for walks, meals, and potty breaks outside
  • Show your puppy that it’s loved with lots of playtime and affection

How To Socialize a Puppy: the First Four Months

The socialization period generally ranges from seven weeks to four months. This phase of your puppy’s life will permanently mold their adult personality and determine whether or not they will be able to interact safely with other dogs.

During the socialization process, you should try to introduce your puppy to new sights, sounds, and smells. Take walks in new areas your puppy hasn’t yet explored and introduce your puppy to as many different types of people as possible. The more stimuli you expose your puppy to, the more comfortable it will be in the future.

Your puppy will inevitably need to make a visit to the veterinarian during the socialization period, too. This is a great chance for you to introduce your puppy to different types of dogs and other animals while discussing veterinary options with your vet. Bringing your puppy to a veterinary specialty center ensures that it’s receiving both adequate socialization and is up-to-date on vaccines and other veterinary services. Vets suggest twice-yearly checkups for older pets, so the sooner you can get your puppy used to making trips to an animal medical center, the better.

Ongoing Socialization Tips for Puppies

It’s important to reward your dog when it shows signs of progress. Provide your puppy with praise, treats, and toys for exhibiting correct behavior. Your puppy will start to catch on and associate the praise with the good behavior, and they’ll keep doing it. Don’t forget that dogs can read our emotions, so it’s important to stay calm. If you’re worried or stressed about putting your puppy in certain situations, try to control your nerves so that your puppy won’t be nervous either.

Ultimately, properly socializing your new puppy is the best way to ensure that it will not have behavioral problems in the future. Unsocialized dogs can wreak havoc on their surroundings, and being aware of these socialization methods is the first step to enjoying all the love your puppy has to give.