Socialization is essential. It is the positive introduction of your puppy to the wider world. The window for socialization ends around week 16 when your puppy's brain is finished developing. Here is a great video about puppy socialization: www.facebook.com/ThatDogGeek/videos/1866965343530923/
The more positive exposures your puppy has to new stimuli, the more adaptive and balanced they will be as a dog.
Make a family checklist! Write a list of all the 'normals' for your family that you would like your puppy to be comfortable with and then each day be sure to check off a few new experiences.
Taking your new dog to obedience class is a great way to socialize as well as learn some new manners. Your puppy will be in a new setting, meet new people, and also meet lots of new dogs.
Take part in a puppy play group or day care supervised by an experienced positive reinforcement trainer. This way your puppy is able to learn how to properly communicate with other canines in a positive and controlled way.
Introduce your puppy to lots of new people of all ages and ethnicities both in your home and outside of your home environment. Provide lots of positive reinforcement with treats and praise before, during, and after any interactions. Give treats to the people meeting your puppy so that the puppy learns that interacting with new people is a good thing (this is especially helpful with children who want to greet your puppy).
We think it’s important to handle our puppies with confidence and all-over cuddles. We make sure that our dogs are are used to having their ears, tails, and paws handled. When being groomed and handled our dogs receive positive reinforcement before, during, and after.
Introduce your puppy to other dogs and animals. Remember to welcome dogs you know are well socialized with other dogs and are up to date on vaccinations into your home. Socialization opportunities can be at a distance as well as face-to-face so that your puppy has a safe and positive encounter with other dogs (and the benefit is that your puppy will learn that we don't greet every dog we meet).
Introduce your dog to a variety of settings. We like to take our puppies and dogs with us anywhere we can! This helps our dogs to respond positively to a variety of new sounds, smells, and stimuli.
Introduce your pup to a variety of surfaces. We start our puppies on a variety of footing: concrete, plastic, paper, linoleum, wood, grass, dirt, pebbles, and wood pellets to name a few!. This allows your dog to be more confident in approaching new situations and environments in their future.
Think about noises. Our puppies are used to having a radio or television on to help them adjust to different sound stimuli. There are also apps and youtube channels to assist with desensitization to the sounds of fireworks, sirens, doorbells, storms, etc.
You are the role model. Staying calm, encouraging, and patient helps your puppy to trust you as they meet the world around them. Provide lots of praise and treats to encourage your puppy to have positive new experiences. Don't force your puppy into an experience, let them go at their pace. When in doubt at space and time. Allow your puppy to process the new experience and always, always positively reward them. Remember to be aware of your puppy's body language and how they are feeling about the experience. Socialization must always be positive. Negative experience or a lack of expriences during this critical period of development can have lasting behavioural consequences.