How Puppy Parents Can Help Your Puppy Be Social(ized)

Sep 19, 2021 |


Pet parents bring their puppy home, buy the right food, that cute bed, those pee pads, and want to be the best parent.  However, the pet parents should not forget to also include opportunities to socialize their puppy.  The best time to begin socializing your puppy is during the first 3-4 months of your puppy’s life.  This period is the best window of opportunity for your puppy to adapt to new people, other dogs and animals, noises, visuals, smells, objects, new locations etc. You may carry your puppy or roll them in a cart to keep them safe (not touch the ground) as you expose them to new locations. Inadequate socialization during this period can increase the risk of behavior problems later in life, such as, fear and/or aggression.  “In fact, behavioral problems are the number one cause of relinquishment to shelters. Behavioral issues, not infectious diseases, are the number one cause of death for dogs under three years of age.”  --from AVSAB Position Statement on Puppy Socialization  

During the first 3-4 months of your puppy’s life, you puppy will not have been fully vaccinated and your puppy’s immune system is still developing.  However, because of the contribution of your puppy’s maternal immunity and first set of vaccines, the risk of infection is relatively small, so long as the pet parents expose their puppy to low-risk socialization opportunities.  The benefits of early socialization outweigh the risk of infection.

In addition to the checklist included in this article, the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) has another easy to understand position statement located at .  Early socialization should include body handling (touching your puppy’s paws, ears, mouth); sounds that your puppy can be exposed to during his/her lifetime (vacuum, sirens, garbage truck, shouting, crying children); visual (bicycle, different size adults and children, other animals); scents (your puppy will explore his/her environment with his/her nose and mouth); different types of surfaces (tile floor, concrete, asphalt, sand), different places (outdoor mall, veterinarian office, car ride), time alone in a safe location (crate, play pen).  The Pet Professional Guild website also has a helpful socialization check list:

After your new companion has completed their vaccinations, do not forget to continue exposing your puppy to his/her environment and novel items.  A fearful animal is unpredictable. The more controlled exposure the puppy has, the less fearful he or she will be when confronted by something new.

Have a Pawsitive Day!  Linda