22 Ways to Socialize Your New Puppy

Congratulations! You are officially a new puppy parent! 🙂 (Or soon to be!)  This will be, indisputably, one of the most challenging, but rewarding endeavors of your life.

chocolate male- Endless Mt. Labradors

The first 16 weeks of a puppy’s life are the most formative… Finding a good breeder that properly socializes their litters the first 8 weeks, is the most important, first step.  But it doesn’t end when you pick up your puppy and take them home. The next 8 weeks with you, away from their litter mates, adapting to their new environment and new family, they will come into their own personality so much more, and socialization is still very critical in their mental and emotional development.

Here is a checklist of things to expose your puppy to, in order to continue their proper socialization:

  1. Touching feet and toenails
  2. Handling ears/checking inside of them
  3. Touching and squeezing nose (gently)
  4. Checking eyes/touching eyelids
  5. Checking and feeling around mouth and gums
  6. GENTLY rolling puppy over onto their back and rubbing their belly (though if you are going to show your dog in conformation, I don’t encourage belly rubbing)
  7. Baths, and water in general, and drying off with a towel
  8. Wearing a cone (I know, it’s so pathetic to watch, but it’s good to get them used to this early on in case it’s needed when they’re older)
  9. Wrapping a paw or leg with an ace bandage
  10. Being held in your lap
  11. Being around a variety of “types” of people (i.e. tall men, deep voices, high pitched voices, beards)
  12. Being around babies and children (ALWAYS supervised)
  13. Being around variously dressed people (i.e. sunglasses, boots, hoods, etc.)
  14. Being around other dogs, and differing breeds, small and large (again, ALWAYS supervised, and we should specify… around dogs YOU know. Be cautious of dog parks and strange dogs. There are healthy and safety concerns.)
  15. Being around other kinds of animals (cats, rabbits, birds, etc.)
  16. Walking on different floor surfaces (carpets, tiles, wood, etc.)
  17. Standing on a scale (like in the vet’s office)
  18. Hearing alarms and sirens, doorbells, fireworks, the vacuum cleaner, and other loud noises
  19. Being around washing machines and dryers
  20. Taking walks near parks, moving cars, and other distracting and busy atmospheres
  21. Riding in the car
  22. Visiting as many different dog friendly places (banks drive thru, parks, shopping centers, etc.)

This list may seem overwhelming at first, but you’d be surprised how many of these things can be done just while playing and interacting with your pup.  You can even hang this right on your fridge, and check it off during the day as you work on different parts of it.  As we’ve talked about before, your puppy’s personality will develop in part by some inherited traits, but also through learned behaviors.  It’s nature vs. nurture.  Each has its own components in the growth and development of any pet.

So best of luck! And well wishes in your new adventure! I promise you, it’s ALL worth it and more…

Lola and her girl- Endless Mt. Labradors

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