If you are bringing a new puppy home, you will quickly find that it is not all fun and games. As a pet owner, you have a responsibility to care for and train your puppy. There are a lot of responsibilities being dropped in your lap. One of these is socialization.
Why Is Socialization Important?
Socialization involves getting your dog used to strange people and other dogs. This is important because your dogs natural instinct will be to protect you from anything that it feels is a threat. If you never introduce your pet to other people and dogs, they will consider them all threats. That could lead to behavioral issues such as aggression. This is something that you want to avoid with all dogs but especially big ones like German Shepherds.
By socializing your dog, you open up a new world to your pet. You can show them that they do not have to be afraid. It also allows you to take them more places which your new puppy will appreciate. A socialized dog can be taken into public without you fearing that they will make a scene or, even worse, bite someone or another dog.
When Should You Start Socializing?
As soon as possible. It will be far easier to socialize a young dog than an older one that is more stuck in their ways. You want to teach them to be around other people and dogs while their young brain is still developing.
The only caveat with when to train is that you need to make sure that your pet is fully vaccinated. You should not bring your new puppy around strange dogs until about 2 weeks after their third round of vaccinations. At that point, they should be fully protected.
What this means is that at about 16 weeks you can start socializing your dog.
How Should I Socialize My Pet?
In short, you should simply try to bring them to as many places as possible.
Dog Friendly Businesses
This is a great way to get your puppy used to strange noises, sounds and other people. Do a search in your local area for dog friendly stores. The most common will be home improvement stores like Lowes or Home Depot.
Many places that do not deal with or serve food will be more than happy to allow your pet in, just as long as you pick up after them. Also, some restaurants with outdoor dining may allow pets. Call around and find out.
A park is a great stress free way to introduce your puppy to other dogs. Unlike a dog park, they can meet other dogs in a one on one basis. This is far less intimidating for a young puppy.
When walking at a park, make sure to keep your dog on a short six foot leash for control. This is not the time to go with a retractable leash. Also, be sure to ask other owners permission before allowing your puppy to approach them. As you know, not all dogs will be friendly.
Once your dog has mastered the park, and grown a bit, you can take the to the dog park. Generally, this should be at around the six month mark.
Before taking your pet to a dog park, do your due diligence. Scout the location for suitability. Most importantly, make sure that they have separate areas for different sized pets. You wouldn’t want your little teacup puppy mixing it up with Golden Retrievers.
Also, make sure that the park is well kept, secure and note the busiest hours of operation. For your first trip, you should try to go when the park is not busy. Once they are used to the small crowd, you can start going at busier times.