Puppy socialization is so important, it’s worth saying twice. A failure to properly socialize young puppies is one of the single biggest reasons for bad dog behavior in adult dogs. Behavior such as aggression (dog on dog), disobedience and general bad manners around other dogs, particularly in public. The long term benefits of a high quality puppy socialization plan simply can’t be stressed enough. You can’t wind the clock back after all.

puppy socialization

Puppy Socialization Can Start Early

Proper early socialization of your puppy can have the positive lasting impact over the course of your dog’s life. It really is THAT crucial.

Socializing your puppy is such a critical part of raising a well adjusted dog. Through early puppy socialization, your young dog can learn to fit into society, learn to live with humans and also with other dogs. This leads to a calm, adaptable dog who isn’t fazed by what they encounter in day to day life.

If dogs are not correctly socialized, they may develop inappropriate behaviors when exposed to new situations or new dogs and people. This can include being overly aggressive or fearful in unfamiliar circumstances. Puppy socialization can help your pup adjust to the world around them at an early age.

When Does Puppy Socialization Begin?

Socializing starts when a puppy is still with its mother and with the breeder. A puppy first learns canine body language and pack structure from around three to four weeks of age, while playing and interacting with its litter mates. It is important that a breeder handles her puppies and plays with them regularly, to give them positive early experiences with people.

The ideal time to bring your new puppy home is when he is eight weeks old. The period from eight to twelve weeks of age is very important for socialization, as your pup is very open to learning and enjoying new experiences. It is vital to take advantage of this stage of your puppy’s social development.

Quick puppy socialization tip: It’s a good idea to invite friends and families to your house to visit, bringing with them their well behaved dog. You can also introduce your puppy to calm, well-mannered children. This type of puppy socialization strategy can allow your pup to learn in a relaxed, informal way.

Puppy Socialization Classes

Puppy preschool is also very important for your young dog. It allows puppies to meet and interact with other dogs of a similar age and level of development, as well as learning some basic obedience commands.

This improves the communication skills of your puppy, as well as enhances the bond between dog and owner. It also allows your dog to sniff and explore in a safe and supportive environment.

Other options for socializing your dog can include going to dog friendly places such as off-leash parks and beaches. It is vital to make sure that your puppy is up to date on its vaccinations, as there may be an increased risk of disease in these places. Also, you need to remember that the other dogs which are there may not necessarily be under complete control.

There may even be under-socialized dogs who may frighten your puppy and set it back in its learning. It may even be better to keep your puppy away from these areas until he is more mature and better able to cope.

It takes a lot of work and effort to socialize a puppy well, but it is an investment in his future, and will help him to fit into his world. Doing a good job will lead to a well adjusted and happy companion who can take anything in his stride.

What’s The Most Important Word to Teach Your New Puppy?

The most important word you can teach your puppy is his name. Getting him to recognize and respond positively to his name can really help during the socialization process.  Use your pup’s name in a positive context 100% of the time. Don’t scold them using their name, use the word “No!” instead. Their name should evoke a positive response.

The capacity to learn is born in every puppy, to a greater or lesser degree. Your puppy starts learning the moment he enters your house. (He starts learning about you and soon picks up on all your varying idiosyncrasies – whether you realize you have them or not, mark my words – your puppy will!). His capacity to learn grows as he does and is fully developed at the age of about a year. Although he’ll stop physically growing, he never stops learning and the early puppy socialization steps you take from day one can act as the building blocks to having the most well mannered, well behaved dog over the lifetime of your pet.

Puppy Socialization Experiences From Owners

How are other dog owners socializing their puppies?

A question from a puppy owner on the best methods for deploying a puppy socialization strategy that works, elicited some excellent advice:

Get the pup as much exposure to as many different things as possible (without scaring it )

Elsie is just coming up to 16 weeks now.

As a rough guide, she has been coming out with us (carried until she could go down) from 8 weeks old to shops especially garden centres and pet stores which are great for meeting people and seeing different things. She has met horses, cows, dogs, cats, alpacas, sheep, pigs, ducks, geese, chickens and been exposed to cars, lorries, buses, motor cycles, pedal cycles, boats, chainsaws, tractors, JCBs, pony & trap, carriage and four, . . the list is endless.

However she is now, at 16 weeks happy and content in more or less any situation she finds herself in.

She has also learnt to recall (instantly – but I know we will need to keep working on that to keep her focussed as she grows) she sits and waits for her dinner and also will sit when asked now.

Interesting Puppy Socialization Disease Query:

What are the risks of puppy infections vs reward for early socialization?

Today I visited a dog training establishment to observe some puppy socialisation. When I said that it would be another 3 weeks before my puppy was fully protected from her jabs she suggested that, in her opinion, the benefits of early puppy socialisation outweighed the risk of picking up an infection.

I make an assumption that the puppies attending will all have been inoculated (you don’t spend money for socialisation and training and not do basic health care), but the field is used for lots of dog work. At my vets there is a sign saying puppies that haven’t completed their jabs should not be allowed down on the floor for risk of infection.

Any comments/feedback appreciated.

BTW it was really nice to see loads of pups out having fun together…the younger/less sure pups were kept seperate from the older more boisterous one’s.


A great question. Answered succinctly…

More dogs are put to sleep due to behavioral problems than all other illnesses put together.

To me it is a no brainer IF the environment is safe. My dogs come home at 7 weeks go on the ground immediately and do not have their first vaccination for a couple of weeks.

None have contracted any diseases.

Puppy Socialization Checklist: To achieve the best early puppy socialization results, be prepared to let your puppy get exposure to many new things, new people, new dogs. Be patient but be focussed on the fact that you can’t rewind the clock. Puppy socialization is absolutely crucial for the long term benefit of you and your dog.