Zephyr received puppy training by First Choice Canine in Groveland, MA

With spring right around the corner, one thing is certain: people are going to be outdoors with their dogs! For many people, the nice weather that comes with the changing seasons makes the idea of a new puppy very intriguing. After all, those constant bathroom breaks are a lot more manageable when it’s above freezing! While spring is a great time to get a new puppy, we’d like anyone training a puppy to be aware of the guidelines for proper puppy socialization. It’s tempting to rush your puppy out the door to meet new dogs and people, but please remember that proper socialization is key- not just letting your dog run into every Tom, Dick and Fido out there. After all, just one bad experience with another dog early on could negatively impact your puppy’s behavior toward other dogs for the rest of its life.

We all want our new puppy to get along with other dogs, but sometimes we don’t realize that we’re doing more harm than good by forcing dogs to socialize. Every experience has to be a positive one during this period of development, because being introduced to a snappy, reactive or dominant dog can create problems like aggression and anxiety down the road. Many owners of dogs enrolled in our aggressive dog rehabilitation program have a similar story: “Another dog attacked our dog a long time ago and now he doesn’t let other dogs (or people) near him.” To prevent this, always be sure that the other dog is friendly. This will limit the number of interactions your puppy can have, but this is a case of quality over quantity. If a stranger says their dog is friendly, you shouldn’t necessarily take their word for it. Some dog owners don’t recognize behavior issues, or write aggression off as playfulness. If you choose to let the dogs interact, make sure both dogs are on leash in a way that they could be pulled apart at the first sign of a bad reaction. Keep an eye on both dogs for telltale signs of aggression, such as curled lips, hunched posture, and raised hair. Even as you remain skeptical of new dogs, you also want to avoid acting nervously or tightening up on the leash. Unintentional cues from the handler can often be blamed for meetings that go sour!

Carefully selecting and supervising these socialization sessions is the best way there is to ensure your puppy is well adjusted. By all means, if your puppy gets along well with another dog, try to get them together for more great experiences. If another dog shows signs of aggression or dominance toward yours, stay away! Don’t continue trying to socialize your puppy with that dog.

Knowing how to train a puppy is one thing, but being diligent and making the time to do it right is even tougher. If you’re training a puppy in Massachusetts or New Hampshire and would like help with socialization or obedience training, we’d love to help! Our puppy foundation program covers not just socialization, but housebreaking and puppy obedience training (basic manners) as well. Preventing bad habits is much easier than fixing them, so contact us today!