How To Make Your Dog Less Stressed In The Long Run.
Socialization is a broad concept and EXTREMELY important when raising a new puppy. Puppies go through a “puppy socialization window” in their lives. Often overlooked by dog owners, It really is something very simple. People don’t even realize their puppy isn’t getting all the building blocks necessary to become a dog with less anxiety, but more positivity and openness as they age beyond puppyhood. This socialization window translates to an overall happier dog with less stress. You the owner will feel much better too about your dog throughout a whole spectrum of activities.
In our neighborhood, I started walking Lilou a little earlier than recommended. At 7 weeks old, I basically started walking her right away within a couple of days of getting her. When I first brought her on a short walk, she was very nervous. The act of leaving the house was scary during this period of time. I did not even need a leash and would run to me and want me to carry her for parts of the way.
The point here is exposure. Although she was timid at first, she showed extreme progress in the days going forward because she would realize people and other dogs are a positive experience and there is nothing to be afraid of. I would walk and ask people if she could say hi- (most people walk up anyway because of her cute puppy appearance). She currently is the most social dog at the dog park. She NEEDS to
Create A Safe Haven
Our front and back yard we have a fence (pictured above) so I would let her lay down and chill. Our front yard is great because people could walk up and say hi through the fence, loud noises of trucks and cars happen constantly, and also just gave her the opportunity to just observe all the other little things the world offers from her own little comfort zone. It is all about exposure and variety at this stage of their lives. Before you knew it, she was walking with confidence like I had never seen and wanted to say hi to EVERYONE with nothing but excitement and tail wags to dogs and people of all shapes and sizes.
Find A Friend Your Dog Can Have A Consistent Positive Experience
A neighbor told me there was a group text that people let each other know when they are going out to walk their dogs or bring them to the park. This gave her the opportunity to meet different types of dogs big and small during the crucial socialization period of 8-12 weeks. She met her friend Kylo (pictured right). They have been playing consistently multiple times a week since 8 weeks of age. This has helped her with her bite inhibition as well by having a “littermate.” Great for overall happiness and development of socialization skills!
Take Advantage Of The Exploration Period
During this period of puppy-hood, they are naturally a little nervous about all the new things in the outside world. However, this puppy socialization window is overshadowed by their super explorative nature. You can turn the bad habits of being too scared, into positive situations with just with mere exposure. This 8-12 week period is where you NEED to take advantage of the puppy socialization window. During this age, their curiosity to explore is prominently displayed.
A great friend found via the neighborhood to socialize with. Although not related great socialization experience multiple times a week.
Choose To Expose Rather Than Be On Your Toes
In about 2 weeks she had seen so many dogs and people doing different things. She would see biking, skateboarding, scootering, old people, young people, shopping carts, etc. She is so welcoming to the world now and greets 99% of people and dogs- (like the video below). Lilou has given things a chance due to consistent exposure. My dog may have been more stubborn to try something new had I kept to myself with her. For example, she was afraid of bikes for a while. I kept riding a bike in front of her while she would watch me curiously. I would then park and let her check it out at her own pace while I stood there with her.
Socialization to “scary” stimuli
Lilou hearing me speak soft and calm said there is nothing to be scared of. If you wait to show them things until they are 6 months of age and on. Past 6 months they will become more independent with their likes and dislikes and curiosity will fade little by little. In their mind, if the object causes too much stress- thus they are not as willing to check it out. Being reluctant to explore new things causes major problems with your dog around different people too. Your dog may act out with aggression later in life because they are stressed due to a lack of exploration. Get out there with your puppy and explore :)!