Bringing home a new bundle of furry joy is always a blessing to a household. However, if your puppy is only weeks outside of being a newborn, it can be difficult for him to understand his new world on his own.
For this reason, it's important for you and your family to learn some useful ways to socialize your young pup, helping him to discover his new surroundings and to not be frightened when he has loving humans by his side. Here are some practical techniques you can apply to prepare your growing canine for his environment, one step at a time.
Let Him Explore on His Own at First
When people think of puppies, they often think of cuddly, playful pets that are bouncing all over the humans they're with. While there's no reason why your puppy won't act exactly the same when he knows he's in the care of loving owners, this level of trust can take time. If your puppy has only recently been brought to your household, he's going to need his humans to take it slow, helping him to come to grips with all of his senses and surroundings at his own pace.
Soothing words and gentle petting are the best places to start, letting your pup get comfortable with the idea of your home and everyone who lives there. Show him his food bowl, his water bowl, offer him new toys and give him a comfortable dog bed for his own personal safe space. Begin to show him gentle touches and gestures with belly rubs and social play time. Once this early stage has passed and your puppy no longer feels intimidated by human interaction, everyday activities will start to become commonplace.
Pour on the Praise and Lavish Him With Treats
In order to ensure that your early training sticks with your puppy, it's vitally important to maintain a positive attitude with your canine, even if he does something wrong. That's not to say you should let bad behavior slide; but stick to gentle admonishing and easy learning demonstrations when your dog does something wrong, instead of outright yelling or displaying angry gestures that could potentially instill fear in your pup going forward.
To improve and encourage good behavior, you should help your puppy understand what it means to do something right by offering him healthy treats and positive reinforcement as a reward. Constantly carrying a bag of treats during the early stages of training is key, for moments when your young pup goes potty on his puppy pad instead of on the carpet, or when he stops himself from chewing on the furniture. Consistent good behavior comes as a result of proper training, so tasty snacks and happy, smiling faces are the best ways to help your pet embrace this concept.
Invite Friends and Their Pups for Play Dates
After your puppy has had ample time to get used to your home environment (and he's had all of his necessary vaccinations for safety), you should consider inviting friends over with their pets for greater socialization.
Meeting a diverse collection of people early in life is highly important for your canine. Do your best to acclimate him to many people of different sizes, ages, races, genders, etc. so your pet becomes comfortable with society at large. After all, even seemingly harmless objects like hats or sunglasses may appear frightening to a dog who has never seen them on a person before.
Meanwhile, when it comes to meeting with other dogs, you should try to seek out friends with puppies or small dogs first. Big dogs don't always pose a problem, but they're less likely to interact with your pet for an extended period of time, as opposed to other puppies or smaller dogs who are likely to join in with him. It may also be less intimidating for your pup to play with other dogs his size who share similar temperaments.
Let Him Experience the World Beyond
Once your dog is comfortable with his personal space and the people around him, you can start to take him out into the greater world beyond!
Expand his horizons by taking him on a walk through your local park, letting him see the many colors of the landscape and catch plenty of interesting scents on the air. If you choose to take him to a dog park, be wary of overcrowding or other unruly dogs. This much stimulation can be scary or possibly even dangerous for a young pup who doesn't know how to handle himself yet. For greater safety, you may wish to harness him for better control of his movements as he adjusts to the location. And, like always, offer your furball delicious treats if he is good at listening to your commands while out and about!
Being out in public will also start to familiarize your puppy with dangerous objects such as cars, trucks, buses and other moving vehicles that he needs to acknowledge for his protection. Take your young pup for a fun car ride first, as it's a great opportunity to let him see such vehicles through the window from afar, before coming into closer contact with them on the sidewalk or while crossing the road with you.
In the end, bringing a new puppy home is a highly rewarding and worthwhile experience. It only gets better when you teach him proper behavior from the beginning, helping him to adapt to his new world for a long and happy life with you and your family.