What do you mean by socializing my puppy?

Working dogs are most effective when they are able to operate in distraction free situations that they are comfortable with.  Dogs become uncomfortable when placed in a situation that they are not familiar with.  For example, a dog that has never been around a group of people can be perfect on the training grounds with its master, but then be put into a hunting situation or field trial situation with strange people around and be too scared to leave its master’s side, or be so distracted that it doesn’t listen to commands.  Some dogs are even prone to biting new people out of fear.  This is where socialization as a puppy comes in.  Socializing your puppy simply means that you are introducing them to new situations so that they will be able to follow commands without distraction at a later age.

How do I socialize my puppy?  

  • Socialization should be done while your puppy is between 10-16 weeks old, as this is the age that puppies are most inquisitive and impressionable. At this age, you want to make sure every new experience for your puppy is enjoyable because these experiences are going to stick with it for the rest of its life. 
  • Introduce your puppy to one or two people at a time. It is a good idea to keep its first interactions with other people limited to adults or older children since small children tend to be rough and can scare a puppy.
  • At first, social interactions should take place where the puppy is comfortable, such as an area it is used to playing in.
  • Puppies should be introduced to as many shapes and sizes of people as is possible. To a dog, a small child looks like an entirely different species than an adult.  Your puppy should be introduced to children after it starts associating people with fun.  Be sure to monitor the interaction so you can intervene if playing becomes too rough. 
  • As your puppy starts to become comfortable with other people, try to take it with you everywhere you can. Pet stores like PetSmart where dogs are allowed inside are great for socializing your puppy with different people.  Puppies always draw a crowd.  Remember though, new scents and sounds can scare a puppy, so if your puppy starts to look like it’s getting scared or uncomfortable, don’t push it.  Go somewhere else where it feels more comfortable.

Socializing your puppy will be an ongoing process throughout its developmental stages.  Don’t force interactions.   Allow your pup to investigate new people on its own and keep voices calm and level so as not to startle your puppy.  If socialized properly, a dog will be comfortable no matter who they are around or how many people they are around. 

Don’t forget that you can email any of your questions to dogs@honeybrake.com and we will be happy to follow up with you.  Our next topic will be simple obedience so be sure to check back next Monday.  As always, good luck with your gun dog!