Socialization is a huge buzzword in the puppy raising and training world. Most people think it’s just getting your puppy around as many things as possible. But it’s SO much more. Socialization has to be done right because bad socialization is better than no socialization. In this blog post, we’re going to go over how to socialize your puppy – the right way.
What is it?
Socialization is the developmental process whereby puppies familiarize themselves with their constantly changing surroundings. It is how they work out what is safe and good as opposed to what is dangerous and not-so-good.
Anything you want your puppy to cheerfully accept as an adult—people of all kinds, animals, things, and situations—you must introduce her to often and in a positive manner in the first 6 months of her life. Then you have to make sure she stays comfortable with all these new things.
But puppies love everything already!
Sure, they do. Until the early stage of their development draws to a close. At that point, they become wary of other dogs if they have met too few. And down the road, puppies can become shy or growly around children or strangers, too, unless they have met and enjoyed meeting a bunch of them.
Under-socialized dogs are at much greater risk of developing all sorts of behavioral problems stemming from fear—aggression, agoraphobia, and reactivity towards certain people and animals, for example.
Teach your puppy that the world is safe and prevent behavior problems in the future.
How to socialize your puppy.
- Think about the things your puppy will see every week as an adult: Visit those places, see those people, or experience those things now.
- Help your puppy form positive associations: Cheer and praise her when she encounters something new. Offer a treat whenever possible.
Step 1. If your puppy seems even a bit nervous, move a little distance away, give her treats, and then walk away—anything she is unsure about should be encountered in short bursts.
Step 2. As soon as your puppy seems more relaxed, try again. As she sees or hears the thing that scared her before, start your cheerful praise and break out the treats.
Step 3. If your puppy did not seem nervous with the new thing or acts curious about it after she has been treated, go back and let her investigate a little more. Again, praise and treat.
Training Tip: When you move away from any new thing, go quiet and stop the treats. We want your puppy to learn that the presence of the thing is what makes you give her the food. That way, she begins to associate the food with the new experience and realizes that, “Hey, that new thing isn’t so bad after all.”
Do it every day. For socialization to be effective, your Miniature Schnauzer pup needs to be getting out to experience the world every day. Even if it’s just a short trip to the park, that counts. The most critical time to do this is up until around 14 weeks. But even after that time, your puppy should still be getting out and about several times a week. If you socialize your puppy for a few weeks, and then leave him at home for a few months, you’ll lose the benefit of all that hard work you put in early on.
PUPPY SOCIALIZATION CHECKLIST
Record your puppy’s reaction to the new things he sees on your checklist. Using the chart and scoring system below, focus first on any areas where your puppy receives a 1. Then work on the 2’s until your socialization checklist is full of 3’s—he’s seen it all and he loves it all.
1 – Hates It (fearful, avoids it, backs-away, growls)
2 – Deals With It (ignores it or walks away)
3 – Two Paws Up – Loves It! (approaches it willingly, wags tail, wiggles)
Socialization can be a bit overwhelming. But always keep in mind that you are raising your Miniature Schnauzer pup to be a confident, happy, well-behaved companion.
Want a puppy that is well-mannered when greeting other dogs when you’re out and about? Read our blog post here.