Recently we added a new puppy to the pack, Mickey. Its interesting watching how Dexter reacts to Mickey and how the bond is established between the two of them through play. At first, Dexter was timid and not sure of why this new dog was in the house. After two weeks, when it was clear he wasn’t leaving, Dexter began to initiate play, and interact through smelling and staying closer in proximity.
But when is the best time to introduce a new puppy to other dogs?
During a recent visit to the vet, he recommended that we “Socialize, socialize, socialize” right now; at about 12 weeks. At this point he has his basic shots, and during this time his brain is still growing and learning and being impressed by all of life’s experiences.
The vet gave me some basic tips:
- Bring him around as many situations as possible. Help him to form positive associations with all kinds of groups.
- Evaluate the dogs you are bringing him into. The dogs he interacts with should be well cared for, and fully vaccinated. He shouldn’t be exposed to sick dogs or ones who could potentially be carrying disease. Family dogs are fine, dog parks are not. Dogs who spend most of their day inside are fine, farm dogs should be approached with caution. Right now his immune system is still building and he needs to get the basics before he can build tolerance to a wide variety of things. Keep him away from the pet store.
I found this great post on the Nylabone page; Training & Behavior: How To Socialize Your Puppy. They recommend similar precautions and go further by recommending ways to socialize your puppy with people. They have instructions for a game called “Pass The Puppy” to get him used to people touching him and learning new voices and commands.
The Pet Professional Guild has a comprehensive checklist you can work through with your pup to expose them to a wide variety of people and situations. The downloadable PDF is a great tool to help build confidence.
Mickey spent the first few weeks of his life out in the country, and when he moved to the suburbs, there was a whole new world of sights and sounds to learn. The checklist above includes such items of exposure as bicycles, airplanes, walking on asphalt, and marble.
Socialization doesn’t end after the puppy stage; it continues through life. Check out these resources for continuing socialization during adulthood:
Animal Humane Society: Socializing Your Dog