Bringing a puppy home is exciting! It’s hard not to fall in love with the cuteness, playfulness, and sweet puppy kisses. Yet having a puppy isn’t all fun and games, as these little ones require proper socialization and training to prevent behavior problems from developing. Dogs who are socialized from a young age are better able to cope with new people, animals, and situations. Here are three tips for socializing your puppy so you can build a positive and lasting bond.

Take it slow

Your puppy is young and small, and many experiences are new to her. Meeting new people and animals may seem benign to you, but these situations can cause your puppy to become fearful and anxious. Don’t attempt to desensitize your pet by forcing her into scary situations, which may even backfire and lead to an even more anxious or aggressive dog. Slowly introduce your pup to new people and pets, and set boundaries to keep your dog comfortable.

Know the signs of stress

While introducing your puppy to new people, pets, and experiences, watch her closely for signs of fear, anxiety, or stress, including:

  • Raspy panting
  • Cowering or attempting to hide
  • Hugging or holding onto you
  • Shaking
  • “Whale eye” (head turned away, but eyes remaining on the perceived threat)
  • Drooling
  • Nipping or snappingGrowling or snarling
  • Yawning
  • Excessive lip licking
  • Furrowed brow

If you notice these signs in your pet, remove her from the situation immediately. If your puppy is exhibiting signs of stress regularly, call us for help.

Create positive experiences

Proper socialization is more than simply exposing your puppy to new experiences. Help your dog develop positive associations with new people, pets, places, and sounds by providing high-value treats or toys and plenty of praise during each new experience. Be sure to do this before your dog has decided that she’s scared. Veterinary visits and grooming appointments are great times to provide extra treats and praise for your pup. Also, attempt to introduce your dog to a variety of people and pets, including different species, breeds, genders, and ages.

If you have any questions or concerns about socializing your new little canine companion, we’re here to help. Contact us.