It may sound overwhelming and difficult, but socializing your puppy is really quite easy, and doing it early will help ensure that your puppy matures into a friendly, adult dog that is a joy to be around.
When to start socializing
You can't start socializing soon enough. The benefits of early socialization simply cannot be overemphasized, but the good news is that it's easy and can be fun for both you and your puppy. All you have to do is take him out and about as much as you can and as soon as possible. And with first vaccinations being offered at six weeks, you can take him out of the house earlier than ever before. Try not to do too much too soon. It is best to build up your puppy's new experiences slowly at first.
Your puppy and other people
People come in all different shapes and sizes and your puppy should have the opportunity to encounter them all. Get him used to strangers but be careful that they don't scare or overwhelm him with a strong show of affection.
It's important that your puppy becomes acquainted with children, too. Even if there aren't any children in the house, get him to meet some outside. Take him on walks in the park, where you are sure to encounter children who will be drawn to your cuddly new puppy. Arrange meetings with friends who have well-behaved children for controlled positive interactions.
Don't forget that puppies can become tired quickly; make sure that meeting times with new people are kept quite short so your puppy has time to rest.
Your puppy and other animals
A crucial aspect of socialization is the introduction of your puppy to other dogs as well as other animals. It is very important that your puppy only meets other animals that you know are well socialized, as a nasty experience can have a lifelong effect on a puppy. Also be sure the other dogs are free from any communicable health problems.
By being around adult dogs, your puppy will learn to respect his elders. An older dog will have no problem putting your little one in his place if he gets a little overexcited. Be careful that your puppy doesn't become overwhelmed by a bigger, playful dog. The last thing you want is for him to be frightened, so make sure you're on hand to intervene and provide a safe haven if necessary.
There's no reason why your puppy shouldn't meet other four-legged friends, such as cats, horses and even farm animals. This kind of exposure will help your puppy grow into a confident, friendly adult dog.
Introducing your puppy to other pets in the home
Before introducing your new puppy to other pets in the household, visit your veterinarian to ensure all pets are healthy and their vaccinations are up to date.
Introduce your new puppy to other pets gradually and one at a time. Keeping your new puppy in a carrier or behind an expandable baby gate is a good way to supervise the first encounter.
During the introduction, separate the pets at any sign of aggression. Acceptance may take time, so never leave your new puppy unsupervised with any of your other pets until you are certain they get along well. Always keep smaller pets, such as hamsters, fish and birds, safely out of reach.