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How To Keep Your Dog Social

Socializing a dog is no easy feat, but it is critical in order for your pup to live a healthy, full life. There are several facets of dog socialization, and you want to make sure that you cover as many of them as possible to have a well-socialized dog. So, let’s dive in and talk about how to keep your dog social.

What is Socialization?

When we talk about dog socialization, we’re referring to the process of familiarizing your dog with a wide array of experiences and things. Socialization can include exposure to any sight, sound, smell, or other sensory experience. The goal is to expose your dog to many things so they are confident and not fearful when met with a new experience at an older age.

When Should You Start Socialization?

Socialization can start as early as three weeks. Of course, at three weeks, the majority of socialization takes place with the puppy’s litter. The first three months of your pup’s life are the most important when it comes to socialization. Like human babies, dogs are sponges at that age and need as much exposure to as many things and people as possible. Ultimately, each dog is different, so consult with your veterinarian about when to begin socialization with your dog.

Socialization is an ongoing, lifelong process, and there is no concrete timeframe by which you need to be constrained. The goal here is to provide your dog with the confidence they need to be unfearful and social in a world full of ever-changing stimuli.

How to Socialize a Dog

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all rule about how exactly to socialize your dog, but there is a universal truth to the idea of immersing them from a young age. One of the best ways to socialize your dog is to use a scavenger hunt of sorts.

Take note that your dog has two major fear periods. One at 8-11 weeks, and one around 6 months. A fear period is a milestone in a dog’s life when they are very sensitive to any negative or scary experience. The bad experiences that happen during this time are likely to impact the dog’s mind and behavior for the rest of their life.

So, it is of the utmost importance to avoid any kind of negative, scary stimuli during these periods so your dog is not impacted for life. Below, you will find a list of things that you should expose your dog to, and you can make it a goal to expose them to as much as possible before their second fear period, around 6 months.

Puppy Socialization Scavenger Hunt


  • People wearing hats
  • Children
  • Running & screaming children
  • People with sunglasses on
  • Bearded men
  • A wheelchair
  • Meet a toddler


  • Interact with a cat
  • Go a farm with various farm animals
  • Visit a dog park
  • Visit the vet’s office


  • Get on an elevator
  • Go on a boat ride
  • Walk on a pier
  • Cross a bridge
  • Use a vacuum
  • Run the washer or dryer
  • Open an umbrella
  • Walk in the rain
  • Watch live music

As you complete each of these things, be sure to use lots of treats to help associate these experiences with a positive outcome.

Consider Professional Training

When it comes to socialization, you are the most important piece of the puzzle. If your dog can sense any worry, fear or apprehension from you, they will react based on that. At Care First Animal Hospital, we offer professional group or one-on-one training classes that will help guide you and your pup in the right direction. Give us a call today, and a member of our team would love to help!

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