The mistake? Thinking that your puppy will be socialized by making him say hi to dogs or people, and that letting dogs “work it out’ is always a good idea.
Remember this playgroup mantra: “Are these dogs a good match for my dog *right now*?”
No matter how much you want to be there, or how much your dog liked it yesterday, your puppy gets veto power and does not have to stay in a social situation. Watch body language carefully for distance-increasing behavior.
By letting your dog have a say in picking which dogs and people to interact with, and when, you build confidence and empower the social skills that will let your dog make more friends for life.
Always let your dog set the pace of socialization. Sometimes that means saying no to fun puppy play groups or other opportunities, like daycare, or disappointing your friends who want to pet your puppy.
Take your puppy to places where dogs are welcome (do not forget to bring your cleanup supplies). Try to do five to seven new things weekly, like experience stairs, bicycles, people with facial hair or glasses, garbage cans, loud noises, new walking surfaces and work trucks, etc. It’s a great time to introduce your pup to a grooming routine.
And even when your puppy is older than 16 weeks, it’s still a good idea to continue to actively socialize him until he reaches 12 months of age.
Socialization helps your puppy be less fearful of common situations that it will encounter throughout life as well as help the puppy learn friendliness and the proper way to react to people, other Pets and more.