Puppy Socialization

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There’s lots of fun experiences you can share with your new baby that don’t include new people and new dogs.

1. Surfaces. Introduce your puppy to a variety of surfaces to walk on—grass or gravel outside, carpet or wood floors inside. Be creative; see if your puppy will walk on a spread-out newspaper, paper bags or even a flat baking sheet. Try a dip in the tub—without water. Take things slowly, let your pup set the pace and offer lots of praise and rewards.

2. Handling. Practice handling for future visits to the vet or groomer. Try slowly massaging all parts of your puppy’s body, including paws so nail trimming won’t be scary. If he is too young to go for walks, let your pup get used to the weight of a leash attached to his collar.

3. Introductions at a distance. Sit on your porch, patio or lawn with your leashed pup and watch other dogs and people go by. As he gets older, go for short adventure walks or scavenger hunts, maintaining appropriate social distance, of course.

4. Sounds and scents. Expose your puppy to new sounds like the vacuum cleaner, a car starting or the doorbell. Encourage him to sniff standing bikes and skateboards, then try moving them slowly. Sing, read or talk to your baby, and reward generously if he responds to his name. Scatter treats in your house or in your yard and encourage him to sniff them out. The reward is getting to eat the ones he finds!

5. DIY stranger. Make sure your pup sees you when you are wearing your mask, and try hats, glasses and wigs, too. Carry or open an umbrella, hop on one foot or drop a can; exposing your pup to new or sudden changes that will encourage him to remain calm. 6.Schedule and routine. Keep to a schedule, like regular times for breakfast and dinner, or a nap in a crate or other safe place at the same time each day. Your pup needs to learn to be calm when he or she is alone, because you can’t always be home. Leave a Kong-like toy stuffed with canned dog food so your leaving is associated with a special treat. Bonus for freezing it first—it lasts longer and is great for soothing sore puppy gums when teething (4-6 months). Leave the radio or TV on to help your puppy feel less alone.