What does this mean exactly?!!
A lot of people think “oh ya, this means socialize my dog with other dogs at the dog park, I do that, I'm good!”. But socialization means sooooo much more than this!!! It is a crucial part of having a puppy, more crucial than any other part of your puppy's life!!
When your puppy is young, approximately 7 weeks -7 months, they are going through a very important part of their life, a period of learning things that they will carry with them for their whole adult lives. They will remember experiences now that will shape their memories and behaviour forever. They will remember good experiences but unfortunately, they will remember the bad ones even more, so we have to help them have less of those as much as we possibly can.
We want them to experience everything they will experience in their adult life, within those 7 months. And it doesn't stop there, for the first two years of their life, they need to keep being exposed to those things, in a positive way.
So, what kind of experiences are we talking about? Yes, other dogs. But other dogs means, off leash, on leash, big dogs, small dogs, black dogs, white dogs, fluffy dogs etc. People, all kinds of people, kids, people from different ethnic backgrounds, people running, kids, kids screaming and running, people that may walk with a shuffle, people with hats, sunglasses, umbrellas, beards, men, tall people, people wearing backpacks, people carrying shopping bags, anything on wheels such as scooters, bikes, wheelchairs, cars and even motorcycles. Help them experience different surfaces on the ground and different sounds. Go for a walk on bridges and docks. At home: vacuum, broom, blender. This is not an exhaustive list but it gives you an idea.....these are things that scare many dogs and later, they can be aggressive towards these things!! If you find there is something your puppy is afraid of, please contact me and I will help you get on the right track!!! Sometimes you can slowly expose them to it and they will habituate to it, but it has to be a mild fear, if it isn't, just exposure will make it worse and the fear will not improve.
Lastly, have a lot of people over to your house too!! I work on dog's that have aggression with visitors so frequently. There is nothing more stressful for dog owners!! They can't have visitors because their dog looks like he wants to eat them!!!! Teach your dog that having visitors means good stuff happens!!!