Why socializing a puppy with other dogs is so important
"You can always train a socialized dog later in life, however you can't always socialize a trained dog later."
Socializing a puppy in the first few months of its life is extremely important for growth and self-esteem. Socializing your puppy helps him get used to the world. She will become familiar with other people, dogs, sights, sounds, and smells. This creates a stable dog who is confident and a joy to take places.
Early socialization means exposing a puppy to hundreds of new things in a positive manner during the first four months of its life. Socialization can make the difference between a dog who gets euthanized because of major behavior problems and a dog who is nice to live with.
Just like socializing children, being around peers is the only way for your dog to understand how they are supposed to behave in new situations. After your puppy has received his proper vaccinations then you can safely take him places. A trip to the park, a pet-friendly store, to a friend's house, or any other fun activity all acclimatize your pooch to outside stimuli. Puppy classes offered by dog trainers are also a fun activity that promotes socialization in a young puppy.
Socializing your puppy with BOTH other puppies and with adult dogs is important. Older dogs will show your pup the rules - they may growl or even do a scruff shake on a pup who's getting too pushy, whereas other puppies will not teach many rules and may even develop some bully behavior. Of course, it's important to make sure that the adult dogs are experienced with puppies and are good teachers, a mild scruff shake is far different from an attack that would be traumatic.
The key to puppy socialization is frequency (once a week is a minimum) and exposure to lots of different dogs. Dogs make friends easily, but may not accept other dogs in the future if they only are exposed to their friend group. If you cannot enroll your puppy into a class, then make sure that he socializes at the dog park or meets other dogs frequently. Aggression usually stems from the fact that a dog is not used to other dogs and feels the need to protect himself. So get him used to other dogs early.
Before a puppy has finished its full vaccine course (parvo virus, distemper etc), it shouldn’t be taken to public parks, walked on the street, or exposed to unknown dogs. The age at which puppies finish their puppy vaccine course varies between 12 - 16 weeks of age.
However, many vet clinics offer "puppy parties" for the puppies in the practice after their first vaccines. This can be a great way to allow your puppy to socialize in a controlled environment and also listen to some great advice from the vet nurse or vet who is teaching the puppy class.
Puppy classes were so important. Not only did my puppy get socialized to other dogs, new sounds, textures and environments, but most importantly, to people. It is important that they are introduced to as many people in the first six months of their lives (crucial development stage).
Dog parks can be one of the best ways to socialize a puppy, or adult dog, to other dogs. Dog parks provide a safe environment for supervised, off-leash play. Most communities have established off-leash, fenced dog parks. Some dog parks separate dogs by size, so that there is an area for large dogs, and one for small dogs. This can help prevent bullying and play that is too aggressive and physical for smaller dogs.