By Arlo the Hound with help from Honor Tarpenning
The great big world seems even bigger to brand-new puppies. You can help your pup learn to be brave and friendly by proper socializing him to new people, places, and experiences.
Although it is vital that you take your puppy out to experience the world, you must wait until he is fully vaccinated to get him out and about. There are lots of dangerous and even deadly diseases that your dog can pick up from other dogs, and even from the ground they walk on.
Since your not-yet vaccinated puppy really shouldn’t go out into the world until he is vaccinated, you can bring a little of the world in to him. Invite friends, especially friends with well-behaved children, over to play nicely with your pup. These initial interactions with strangers will help to form your puppy's future feelings about meeting people who aren’t family. Just make sure visitors wash their hands thoroughly before playing with your unvaccinated puppy. Also, make sure visitors leave their shoes by the door. Diseases like parvo or kennel cough can be carried in from the ground on people’s shoes.
Play, Play, Play
Spend LOTS of time playing with your puppy. This is your chance to cement your relationship with your pooch from day one. Show your dog you are calm, assertive, and loving from the very start and you’ll be in good shape. Remember to discourage any behavior you don’t want your dog to display from the very first time. Puppies nipping at your hands may seem harmless, but if you encourage it, or let it continue happen, you may end up with a nipping adult dog, and that isn’t so cute.
Figure out what motivates your pup. Some pups are most motivated by food, some by toys, and others by affection. Once you know what really gets your pup excited, use it to praise him for calm, submissive behavior in every new situation. Give him lots and lots of verbal praise every time he approaches a new situation without fear.
Once your puppy is fully-vaccinated, take him out to lots of dog-friendly places, and introduce him to people. Make sure he gets to meet lots of different people. Try to let him meet men, women, tall people, short people, people with facial hair, and people with different colored skin. This will help your pup be friendly with strangers and avoid aggression out of fear.
Let your pup meet both adults and children. Children and adults generally have a very different manner around animals. Children tend to have less respect for boundaries; they tend to move more erratically, and are often louder.
It is a good idea to introduce your dog to different animals as well. Dogs who are made familiar with animals like cats, ferrets or rabbits as puppies tend to have less prey drive. This means they will be less likely to chase or attack the family bunny or the neighbor’s cat
Help your dog get comfortable with going to the vet by taking him for visits when he isn’t getting poked or prodded. Give his favorite treat or toy to an employee and let them play with and reward him. If he thinks the vet is a fun place where he will receive praise, he will be a lot less likely to fear it.