Dog socialization has been a huge buzz-word with dog trainers in recent years, and it should be! Dogs aren’t just working animals anymore, they make up huge parts of our families! With that in mind, good socialization is key. The goal is for a new puppy to experience 100 new things in 100 days (after you bring him home). It sounds like a lot—and it is, don’t get me wrong!—but it’s totally do-able. You’d be surprised how many little things add up to the bigger picture.
A well-socialized dog is an absolute dream to own. It takes a lot of work, but the payoff is unreal. It alleviates the stress of suddenly being in new and unfamiliar situations, because a well-socialized dog will typically let most things just roll off its back. Loud noises? No big deal. Lots of people? That’s cool. Kids? We love tiny humans! It’s awesome.
Our dog Archer, for example, is the talk of the neighbourhood. If she’s outside, we’ll usually have a neighbour drop by to say hello to her. They all know Archer by name, but probably don’t have a clue who Matt and I are (Archer is the Beyoncé to our Destiny’s Child). At Halloween, we heard gasps that “This is where the Great Dane lives!” and all the kids lined up to pet her. And Archer loves it. She just stands there, happy as a clam. She loves her adoring fans.
How did we end up with a dog who thinks everyone is her best friend? Admittedly, part of it was luck. Archer is a natural-born sweetheart. The rest is all good socialization from an early age.
What bothered us—and most other people we talked to about the 100 in 100 rule—is that it can be a little frustrating because puppies can’t socialize with other dogs until after they’ve received their last set of vaccines. Fortunately, socializing with other dogs is just one factor of good socialization, so while you wait for your pup’s last set of shots, you can get to work on all the other fun activities.
We’ve put together a great list for you to download and use as your puppy grows. We’ve included everything we can think of, but there’s always more! And, of course, there might be things in our list that just aren’t practical for you. Roll with it, and hit that 100 in 100 in style!Download Our 100 in 100 Checklist
You Have a Part to Play
When introducing your puppy to new situations, you have a big role to play. When they’re uncertain of something, your puppy will look to you for guidance. Be positive and encouraging, and be mindful of all the factors involved in any one situation. Don’t overwhelm your puppy, but introduce them to new things gradually. If they start to look overwhelmed, or fearful, give them an escape route. Oh, and treats. Remember to bring treats to enforce good behaviour on top of praise and encouragement.
More is More
The more your pup experiences, the better. It isn’t enough to just meet one dog once at a dog park and think your pup will be a pro at interacting with unknown dogs. Repetition of positive experiences and encouragement are key.
Your Circumstances May Vary
Hey, we all lead different lives. Someone living in a city may have a very different set of situations to encounter with their puppy than someone living in the suburbs or in rural areas. Focus on your living situation, and adjust yourself accordingly. You want your puppy comfortable with the circumstances with which you live, after all!
Keep Learning Beyond Day 100
As I was writing this, I noticed our cat, Ace, was pawning at a spider on the floor. I pointed the spider out to Archer, who then began to nose the spider. The spider would scrunch up into a ball until she stopped, then try to scurry away. It was adorable. She may have accidentally ate it though, but house spiders in northern Ontario aren’t the deadly kind, so no worries. My point? Keep encouraging safe, new experiences for your dog well into its adult life. Never stop learning.
This article was written on July 28, 2015 for Good Dogs & Co.