Usually around this time of year, we tend to see an increase in the cuteness that walks through our doors better known as PUPPIES!  It is amazing to witness the pure love and joy when a puppy completes a family. The tricky part for some new puppy owners can be how to properly socialize their pups safely. This is where Jeri Wagner of Bark Busters Dog Training comes in!  Jeri is a longtime friend and professional partner of PVPE, and she also teaches group training classes at our store. Jeri was kind enough to share her own blog post below on ‘Socializing Your Puppy‘ with PVPE for new and existing puppy owners.

Socializing Your Puppy – By Jeri Wagner of Bark Busters

A question I am often asked is: “How can I go about getting my puppy together with a group of dogs for good socialization?”

First, I try to get people to understand that ‘socialization’ means more than “just other dogs”. They need to rethink the meaning of socialization and how it fits in with the dog’s perspective and their wishes. It means having their dog exposed to a variety of items and situations. Then, I explain that dogs would not normally plan a ‘social gathering’. Your dog just needs to behave well when seeing other dogs and not all dogs want to ‘meet’ all other dogs (Dog In Need of Space (DINOS)). Good manners start in the home. If a dog is mindful, respectful and trustworthy in the home, chances are it is socialized.

Be cautious of socializing your pup outside your home until he has been vaccinated, otherwise he may be susceptible to catching potentially fatal diseases. In most cases, puppies should have three sets of vaccines during their first year. A nursing pup receives antibodies from his mother’s milk that protect him from viruses and diseases. These antibodies begin to dissipate at around seven weeks, leaving the pup (weaned at about five weeks) vulnerable to disease. Therefore, puppies are given their first vaccination at six to eight weeks, with booster vaccines given at 10 to 12 and 14 to 16 weeks; the final booster usually includes a rabies vaccine. Check with your veterinarian about the best vaccine protocol for your puppy.

Because your puppy may seem to be fearless at this stage, introducing him to new situations is important from the moment you bring him home. Be cautious, however, as introducing a pup to too many new stimuli may be stressful for him. Be sure to praise him when he handles a new situation well. 

Also, walk your pup on different surfaces (carpet, grass, roadways), take him for frequent outings, play games and then pet him quietly when he has settled down after a romp. Introduce him slowly to all types of appropriate interactions with people, animals, and new sights, sounds and smells.

Typically, I socialize a puppy by going to a public place, such as a park or walking trail, and have the owner hold the puppy on their lap and relax. This takes out any anxiety the owner might have and allows the dog to view the world as it goes by. I also advise people to be selective as to whom they socialize their puppy with, just as you would do with a small child. For example, you would not let a 5 year old to play with a 16 year old and so forth. Avoid situations where you can’t control the situation, where there are unknowns. I advise puppy owners to socialize with their friends who have soft natured dogs that are comparable in size to their puppy’s size. Then they just need to maintain rules around the house and wait for their dog to develop mature.

**To read more about Jeri, Bark Busters and to view Jeri’s 2019 Training Schedule, please click here:**

*We would be remiss if we also did not emphasize the importance of being responsible when giving pets as gifts. “The ASPCA recommends the giving of pets as gifts only to people who have expressed a sustained interest in owning one, and the ability to care for it responsibly. We also recommend that pets be obtained from animal shelters, rescue organizations, friends, family or responsible breeders—not from places where the source of the animal is unknown or untrusted.”