Puppy Care – Socialization

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 12,465
    Dr. Elisa Mazzaferro, American Animal Hospital Association spokesperson, discusses proper socialization for your puppy.

    Dr. Elisa Mazzaferro: Hi! I'm Dr. Elisa Mazzaferro with AAHA and today we're talking about how to care for your puppy. Now we're going to discuss puppy socialization. Aside from providing proper veterinary care, getting your puppies socialized when it's young, before five months of age is one of the most important things that you can do as a pet owner. This will help your puppy lead a safe and healthy life.

    So what can you do to provide proper socialization for your puppy? First, before you bring your puppy home, investigate proper training methods. There are a variety of training methods that are available. Check in to various puppy classes at a well-recognized, reputable clean area. Get recommendations from your friends who have well-behaved dogs. Get recommendations from your veterinarian.

    I would encourage you to schedule an appointment and go to the training facility during one of their classes. Are they encouraging positive reinforcement for good behaviors? Is it clean? Do the puppies and pet owners seem happy? If you're not comfortable with their training methods and just the overall feel, it's probably not going to be good for both you or your puppy.

    Once you've determined what place you're going to bring your puppy to, you can start training classes as soon as possible. Remember, there is a narrow window of opportunity to get proper socialization in early before your puppy picks up some bad traits.

    You're going to want to expose your puppy to a variety of different stimuli, both external and internal. What I mean is, invite your mailman in for a cup of coffee, so that you puppy gets to know them. Have strangers come to the door and ring the doorbell, so your puppy won't bark excessively when they hear that noise.

    I like to bring my puppy to a bank or a grocery store and just sit outside away from areas where a whole bunch of dogs might go, and have random strangers come up and pat the puppy or give them treats so that they know that strangers aren't bad. Bring them to the veterinary hospital just for random weighings so that they know that every time they come to this place, then it's not a bad thing and they won't get stuck with needles.

    They can go for rides in the car with you. So puppies that might get carsick will become acclimated to that and they won't get sick every time they go for a ride in the car.

    Finally, until the puppy is well-vaccinated to the series of vaccines through four months of age, it's important to avoid places where large amounts of animals go, such as dog parks and trails, because we don't want your puppy exposed to infectious diseases.

    So, well, it might be tempting to bring your puppy to the dog park, it's better to wait until they are better socialized and better vaccinated and well-protected.

    Next, we're going to talk about establishing a daily routine for you and your puppy.