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This article is courtesy of Grandparents.com.
by Phoebe Assenza
When you start raising a puppy, there are stressful tasks like housebreaking, behavior training, obedience training, grooming, and health to worry about. But one of the most important — and fun — things you can do for a new dog is to socialize him.
It may sound silly — walking your dog around town and introducing him to other people and pets — but the more exposure to the outside world your puppy gets, the smaller the chance he'll exhibit serious, almost unchangeable behavior problems as an adult dog. Here are some tips for raising a happy, well-adjusted friend:
1. Puppy Kindergarten. Most dog trainers and doggie day cares, and some veterinary clinics, hold regular sessions of "puppy kindergarten." These classes focus less on training than obedience classes for older dogs. Puppy kindergartens mostly provide a structured social environment, where your dog will meet and learn to get along with lots of different dogs and people. The sooner your puppy learns to socialize with other dogs, the less likely he'll be scared or aggressive around new dogs or people. The trainer who runs your puppy kindergarten class can also offer help with housebreaking, barking, and initial obedience training.
2. Hit the streets. As soon as your puppy is fully immunized and has his collar and ID tags, take him for frequent walks around town. Introduce your dog to the neighbors, other dogs, and children, and generally get him used to all the different sights and sounds. The sooner your dog becomes comfortable in his surroundings, the less anxious he'll be when he's suddenly confronted with construction or traffic noises — or the mailman.
3. Carry your puppy around on errands. If you have a dog carrier for your puppy, use it on trips to the mall, grocery store, or local parks. Let your puppy experience crowds of people and busy activity early on in life.
4. Introduce your puppy to the most obnoxious sounds around the house. Let him hear the vacuum cleaner, blender, garbage disposal, and coffee grinder soon after he arrives. This way, he won't be surprised later on and start barking every time you use one of these appliances.
5. Teach your puppy to walk up and down stairs. And do it as soon as he can physically manage.
6. Take your puppy for a brief walk in the rain or snow. Make sure he has the appropriate puppy attire, of course.
7. Groom your puppy early. He needs to become accustomed to being brushed, bathed, having his teeth cleaned, and nails clipped.
8. Don't reward timid behavior. A regular old Dumpster on the street might look sinister to a young puppy, and it's normal for him to bark and back away. Don't be too quick to kneel down and soothe your puppy, or he'll think he's doing a good thing by barking. Instead, let him work through his fear, offer an encouraging tone, and gently lead him past the obstacle (but don't pull or force him). Soon enough, he'll be flying past trash cans like he doesn't even see them.
Grandparents.com loves pets! Read this article and some of their other columns here.
Image: Kate & Jen / via Flickr