Many new puppy owners have heard something about socializing their puppy. It is easy for many puppy owners not to think too much into it. "Socialization? For what? My puppy is just going to be at the house with me." or "my puppy is extremely social, that's for puppies that are timid". It's very easy to get into the mindset that socialization just isn't that important. But you would be surprised at just how wrong you may be and the benefits and ease of ownership that comes with a well-socialized young pup (and older dog, for that matter).
When talking about puppy socialization, we aren't just talking about interactions between your pup and other dogs-it's much bigger than that. We are talking socializing your dog to different types of people, settings, and situations-and YES, with other dogs, too
Socialization in puppy-hood is a HUGE part of raising a well-adjusted dog. Think about the things that your pup will be exposed to as an adult or adolescent dog: friends and family visiting, strangers passing by during a walk, going to the vet's office, going on family outdoor adventures, the dog park, etc. There are so many situations in a dog's life where they will be exposed to situations that are very different from their home environment. By exposing your dog to these types of situations OFTEN throughout puppy-hood and adolescence, you are helping your dog to accept and be confident in these situations. So much fear, reactivity, and "aggression" stem from a dog that was not well socialized and is really just scared and not very confident in the safety of this new environment, person, or situation.
Understanding your puppy's mind and what is important in raising them can be difficult to narrow down. Preparing for a new addition includes having high quality food on hand, all kinds of different toys, a confinement system-just to name a few. But a good training plan that focuses on socialization and bite inhibition is a must! After all, you love your puppy and hopefully plan on him spending the rest of his life as a part of your family. Only those who have lived through it can tell you how horrible and seemingly impossible it is to live with a dog that is destructive, not house-trained, and fearful or aggressive towards other people and animals due to lack of socialization in the formidable stage of the dog's life.
Puppy Classes can be an excellent way to expose your dog to different situations, other people, and strange dogs. While socialization doesn't begin and end with puppy classes, having a positive reinforcement trainer can help give you great ideas and support as to how you might continue the socialization of your new friend to ensure you raise a confident, well-adjusted friend that doesn't have problems going to the vet and sitting in the waiting room with other dogs(and cats, and rabbits, etc) and that you don't have to choke with a leash to keep them from jumping on an unfamiliar animal or person.
Socialization really makes all the difference!