Socialization is the process of introducing your puppy to new people, places, things and experiences he will likely encounter in his lifetime as part of your family. This may include exposure to the veterinary practice without needing to be examined; visiting nursing homes; going to parks; seeing children running, screaming, and playing; hearing loud noises, such as trains, motorcycles and gunshots. You will also want to give your puppy opportunities to meet children, babies, the elderly, and folks in wheelchairs; people using canes, big hats, sunglasses and costumes; people in uniforms, such as police officers, postal workers and delivery truck drivers. Take your puppy for rides in the car, let him walk on different surfaces, go for a ride on an elevator, take a nice walk through a park or go to a ball game. Basically, take and expose your puppy to all the things that you anticipate your dog will experience throughout his life with you. These are wonderful experiences for your puppy and can be great fun. Allow your puppy to become comfortable with one socialization opportunity at a time until he seems comfortable with each situation before moving on to new or different experiences. You will not want to overload him with too much information too quickly. Pushing, pulling or forcing your puppy in any way defeats the entire socialization experience. Build gradually on their successes. It should always be fun for you both.
It is important that you introduce your puppy to other animal species (such as cats, rabbits, horses, etc), as well as other dogs. Introduce him not just to other animals members of your family, or next-door neighbors, but to all types--big, small, young and old. Before you introduce your puppy to other animals, MAKE SURE THAT THE OTHER ANIMALS ARE PROPERLY IMMUNIZED. You should also be sure that your puppy is current on his vaccinations (see recommended vaccination schedule). It is important the other animals do not have a problem with puppies, though, or you will defeat the purpose of the interaction. Take the time to view this video about puppy socialization: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6UhuAxu3tiU
One of the best things you can do for your puppy is to enroll him in a puppy class if there is one available. Be sure the trainer does not use any harsh corrections on your puppy and if the trainer tells you to do anything harsh to your puppy, leave the class and do not go back. If puppy classes are not available to you, we have an in house library with books and videos that can help you get started on the right foot. These early months set the foundation for his future. Emotional or physical harm done during the first year can last a lifetime.