Puppy Play and Socialization

What is good socialization with other dogs?

Every­one knows that you’re sup­posed to “social­ize” your pup­py. But what does that mean?

It’s not sim­ply about expos­ing your pup­py to expe­ri­ences, peo­ple, places and things. The key to good social­iza­tion is to ensure that your pup­py is form­ing pos­i­tive asso­ci­a­tions and learn­ing that the world is safe and fun, not scary or unpre­dictable.

For exam­ple, if your pup­py is con­stant­ly get­ting rolled or chased between your legs by oth­er dogs or pup­pies, what is your pup­py learn­ing about oth­er dogs? Prob­a­bly that they’re scary! This can lead to a pup­py that grows up fear­ful of oth­er dogs, and fear can lead to aggres­sion if your pup­py learns that the only way to feel safe is to growl or lunge or bite to keep oth­er dogs away.

It takes a lot of skill and exper­tise to run pup­py social­iza­tion groups well. Pup­pies should not just be tossed in a pen or left in a field or liv­ing room to play with no guid­ance, any more than you’d leave a group of ele­men­tary school chil­dren unsu­per­vised on the play­ground to “work it out” them­selves. Play ses­sions should be guid­ed by a skilled train­er who will inter­vene and adjust the play group as nec­es­sary so that all pup­pies are hav­ing a good time, and learn­ing good man­ners.

Our safe and crit­i­cal socialization/play ses­sions (Sat­ur­day morn­ings at 10:00am for pup­pies aged 9 weeks to 18 weeks) take place on non-slip mat­ting in appro­pri­ate groups. We active­ly shape dog play so your shy pup­py will learn to be braver, or your ram­bunc­tious pup­py will learn to tone it down and behave with man­ners around oth­er pup­pies — while still hav­ing fun!

Please note that is very rarely appro­pri­ate to mix ado­les­cent dogs with young pup­pies in group social­iza­tion class­es.

  Videos of Good Play

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