Puppies do not open their eyes until around 2 weeks of age. They spend the first two weeks of their lives relying on their keen sense of smell to find their way between the other members of the litter and to reach their mother. When they finally open their eyes, a new world opens up for them. The puppies can be separated from their mother at about 7 to 8 weeks of age (not before) which is exactly the ideal time to begin their socialization. Even though you can teach an old dog new tricks, it is much easier to teach a puppy when and where to relieve himself, how to greet another animal or other people in a jovial and welcoming manner, how to accept the care of the veterinarian or groomer, or how to explore the world in general with serenity. Socializing a puppy should start early, and you should get to work quickly. Clearly, the period between 7-8 weeks of age and 18 weeks of age lends itself very favorably to your puppy's socialization. Here are a number of actions that you can take both inside and outside the home that will help you make the most of this time to successfully socialize your dog.
Socialization of the Puppy in the Familiar Environment
Teaching Him to Be Clean
It won't be long before your adorable little puppy does its business on your living room floor. Even before this happens, you already knew that it was essential to teach him to clean. The key to successful house training is two words: consistency and patience! Respecting a routine with regular schedules will not allow your puppy to be cleaned immediately all night long, but it is the sine qua non-condition for this learning to become a quick and simple process while avoiding too frequent cleanings. Choose the schedule that suits you best. Take your puppy out as soon as you get up in the morning and just before going to bed; take him out after feeding him, after he has drunk a lot of water, after his nap, or after playing actively with him. If you have more than one exit door in your home, always use the same one. Also, if possible, always bring your puppy outside to the same place for him to relieve himself. If you always do the same thing, your puppy will start walking to the door when it's time to go outside and if you're lucky enough to be there and spot those visual cues, you'll see that housebreaking will go very quickly. One essential rule: be patient and forget about punishments, they are counterproductive! However, immediate rewards (a caress for example), as soon as your puppy defecates outside will be an additional asset to speed up the process.
Teach him to be touched or manipulated
It is much more fun to teach your puppy to be handled and groped than to teach him to clean. It is very important that your puppy feels comfortable and accepts being handled or touched by strangers. Indeed, throughout his life, your puppy will meet many different people. Take the time to carry him, cuddle him, pet him or touch him. Sit him on your lap and touch his ears, touch his eyelids or nose, lift his lips, open his mouth, check his teeth, take his tail or paws (gently!)... It is important that your puppy is not afraid to be handled by the groomer or by his veterinarian who will most certainly give him injections. However, don't let your puppy chew or lick you all the time, if his fangs don't hurt, his adult fangs won't! Ask your veterinarian to show you how to cut his nails if you are afraid of hurting him. The calmer you feel when you handle your pet, and the better your pet feels when handled, the better it will be for both of you.
Teach Him the Rules of the House
Puppies are born explorers. Help him explore the various rooms of the house safely. Put him on the different types of floors in your house: parquet, tile, carpet, or rugs to get him used to them. Decide quickly if you will allow him to climb on sofas, chairs, or beds. If you plan to allow him to climb on chairs, choose some that he will be welcome on while denying him access to others. If you set limits for your puppy, it will be much easier to keep them later when he becomes an adult. Some people don't mind sleeping in their bed with their 5-kg puppy, but there may not be enough room for two once he grows up and weighs 35 kg!
Socializing Your Puppy in the Outside Environment
Getting Him Used to Move from One Place to Another
Your puppy must learn how to get from point A to point B while meeting and greeting other puppies, cats, or people. He also needs to learn how to behave in places that are suitable for people (such as crowded streets, hotels, or restaurants that accept dogs) or animals (such as parks and kennels). All of this may seem overwhelming, especially when you consider that you're going to have to deal with all of this in the first 5 months of your dog's life, but rest assured that it's not the case. All you have to do is just live your life with your puppy by your side. Are you going by car? Take your dog along. Feel like taking a little trip to the terrace of a café? Take your dog along. The best way to socialize your puppy so that he adapts to your lifestyle is to live your life with him always at your side. Going out with your puppy will also allow you to quickly make many encounters. Puppies attract people like magnets! Let strangers stop to pet your puppy and then reward him if he has behaved well during this exchange. If your puppy seems a little overwhelmed by all these new experiences he's facing, don't insist and let him relax a little. You'll try again a little later. It may take some time, but your puppy will eventually get used to living with you.
Preparing Him for the Unexpected
If you think it's impossible to prepare your puppy for an unexpected event, you're wrong. Think about how many intense noises or strange images can surprise you. It's not hard to imagine what those same sounds or images might mean to your puppy. Start with simple noises like knocking on the door or ringing the doorbell, then gradually work your way up the ladder to the car horn or fire siren. The key is to help your dog get used to seeing things or hearing noises that seem to come out of nowhere, so when there's thunder or fireworks, you'll run away and hide while your dog remains stoic!