How To Socialize Your New Puppy

  • 5 min read


When it comes to training your new puppy, socialization should be at the top of your list. By helping them become accustomed to new places, people, and dogs in a positive environment, your life and theirs will be much more enjoyable. You won’t have to isolate your dog from fear of what they might do, or how they act up. You will have put the work in to know what your dog will do in any situation, while being able to observe behaviors that are unfavorable and train them away fast. 

The Importance of Socializing Your Puppy

When it comes to training, socialization is a very important, yet surprisingly overlooked, aspect of your pup’s education. From birth until about 14 weeks, there is a big imprinting period where you dog is open to learning lots of new things. Granted, you can still teach dogs of all ages new things, but these beginning weeks are truly relevant to how your dog will perceive its surroundings.

By putting in the front-loaded effort of socializing your dog, you (and them) will reap the benefits for the rest of their life. A well socialized dog holds confidence, as they are familiar with a variety of situations and animals, and is ultimately a more confident dog. This confidence boost from such a young age will lead to a much more well adjusted dog down the road.

Visit New Places

Even at 10 years old, Nala still loves exploring new places. She gets bored of the same walks easily, as do I. Even just driving her to a new side street works wonders. Why?

All dogs love experiencing different sights, sounds, and smells (shocker, people do too, we just forget this sometimes). For puppies specifically, it ignites their curiosity of the world around them.

With puppies, be sure to approach things slowly. You are still getting to know their personalities, and whether they are super outgoing or not. Anywhere you take them, be sure to give positive praise for positive reactions. A great way to start slow is to start in a quiet area and build up to more public places.

Unless you are well aware of the dynamics of dogs inside the dog park, it might be best to save this experience for later on. Many times, big dogs are rough housing (as they should!), and puppies can easily get caught up in the mix accidentally, or even get hit by a bigger dog.

Keep The Experience Positive

Again, you want these beginning experiences to be positive for your new puppy, so make sure they are having a good time! If you can keep your dog really enjoying the new places they are discovering, they will forever connect new environments with something great. 

High value treats are great for praising your dog while they are trying their new nose out and exploring. Along with these treats? Reassurance is equally if not more important. This allows you to push them out of their comfort zone a little, while still showing them you have their back in case something happens. 

See another dog walking with their owner? Always ask permission before your puppy approaches them. Most of the time, it is totally fine, but it is better to simply ask to get your own understanding of if the other dog likes puppies or not.

Meeting New People

The more people you can expose your puppy to the better. Remember, your dog is trying to associate good experiences with all types of people and even other animals. A variety of age groups, ethnicities, genders, and sizes of people will help greatly.

I think one of the most important ones here is socializing with children. A playful tail pull can come out of nowhere, and you want your dog to be understanding of those actions, and how they are not meant to be harmful. Once your dog gets used to kids, they’ll understand it is just how they play.

Just like exploring new areas, starting out slow with new people is a great thing to do as well. Friends and family are a great place to start. Another great place is your local vet! You can get your puppy accustomed to this seemingly scary place, and the vets absolutely love new furry friends. They wouldn’t be doing what they do if they did not!

Meeting Other Animals

As you have probably gathered from this article, the more things you can introduce and expose your dog to at this young age, the better. This includes different types of animals as well!

The benefits to this are great and vast, but again it comes down to positively reinforcing your dog’s behavior when it comes in contact with new animals. A great place to start would be with horses. Around the outskirts of Boston, there are plenty of horse owners who love to take their horses on rides through the hiking trails. It is a great thing, but you would want your puppy to be comfortable with horses so nothing bad can happen.

Most, if not all, horse owners who ride their horses on these trails know very well dogs will be out there, and have done their best to train their horses to remain calm if a dogs starts barking at them. You can do your part too by training your puppy as well! Nala must just think they are gigantic dogs, but she gives them space and keeps on walking which is great.

Have other animals at home? What a great place to start! Considering your dog will be sharing the backyard with them, it would be important for your dog to become accustomed to your feathered friends out there without the need to chase them around.

Wrapping Up

For new dog owners, this might be a lot to take in. Where do you start? What do I do if my dog doesn’t react the way I want them to? So many questions! Fear not, my friends. Just like everything else, take it slow and enjoy the process. Socialization of your puppy should be at the top of your list, but where do you start?

For me personally, I always enjoy visual examples for me to not only learn, but remember the things I have and have not done. That is why I created a free printable checklist for you to download. This has all types of socializations for you to try out with your puppy, and when you feel comfortable they handle that situation well, you can check it off the list!

This checklist adds a fun way to see what you are going to explore with your dog each day. Not only will you feel accomplished when you keep checking experiences off the list, but you will notice a much calmer, more confident puppy then you did when you started the checklist. 

Give it a shot, and let me know how your experiences went!