Socializing Your New Puppy

puppy socialization

If you have a new puppy, one of your first tasks will be properly socializing them. This is of course after they are fully vaccinated, but it should be done as soon as possible. The benefits of properly socializing your puppy are many. A properly socialized dog will be friendlier to strangers, will not embarrass […]

If you have a new puppy, one of your first tasks will be properly socializing them. This is of course after they are fully vaccinated, but it should be done as soon as possible.

The benefits of properly socializing your puppy are many. A properly socialized dog will be friendlier to strangers, will not embarrass you by barking excessively and is less likely to be a liability since it will not be prone to biting. There are many more benefits to socializing, but these are some pretty important ones. So, just how do you go about making your dog social? It is a lot easier than you might think.

As cute as puppies are, they aren’t born with the knowledge of how to behave around humans. If you’ve ever watched a documentary about wolves, coyotes, or foxes, then you probably gained some insight about wild canines. In the wild, these pack animals live in packs and establish hierarchies by asserting dominance through acts of aggression. By doing so, they ensure their survival and also get along quite well, even though if you watch their aggressive interactions, it might not seem so. 

Interestingly, these interactions of affection and aggression that they display towards one another is a form of “socialization,” because these interactions teach every member of the pack how to behave and how to stay in their place. 

Your new puppy also has an innate nature to figure out his place within your household, family, neighborhood, and community. But the instincts within him are from his wild canine roots. And if left to his own devices, he will probably use nipping, biting, dominance, and perhaps aggression to establish his place in the hierarchy of your home. This type of unchecked behavior would be inappropriate. 

This is where puppy “socialization” comes in. As part of your puppy’s instinct to find his place in the pack, he also has instincts to learn and adapt. Because you’re a human and not a wild wolf, when he observes your positive and negative feedback in response to his behavior, he’ll quickly learn how to behave himself among the humans!


A bunch of dogs have a party to satirize puppy socialization as a pun.

Puppy socialization goes far beyond your puppy learning from you, however. Proper socialization will expose your puppy to other people, strangers, children, and other dogs, puppies, and animals, both domestic and wild, like the squirrels in the park. Socialization will also expose your puppy to new settings and environments, which provide your puppy with brand-new experiences, sounds, smells, and “rules.” 


There’s one crucial “benchmark” when it comes to socializing your puppy, and that benchmark is being fully vaccinated. Now, it’s true that your puppy will have received an initial round of vaccinations while at the dog breeders, but that doesn’t mean that he’s “fully vaccinated” and will be safe around other dogs and animals. 

For this reason, your puppy’s socialization prior to being fully vaccinated should take place more-or-less in and around your home. Until your puppy is fully vaccinated, do not try to socialize him with other dogs, like at a dog park for example. 

Just because your puppy isn’t fully vaccinated yet doesn’t mean you have to wait to socialize him. At home, you can invite friends and family over to introduce your puppy. Be sure to guide your puppy’s behavior and give him positive feedback as he behaves well. If you or your friends and family have children, your puppy will benefit greatly by being exposed to kids, playing with them, and otherwise learning how to appropriately interact. 

Then once your puppy is fully vaccinated and your vet gives you the green light, go-ahead to bring your puppy to the park and socialize with other animals, you will be free to proceed and bear in mind the following tips. 

Dog Parks

Your puppy is ready to start socializing at the dog park when he’s learned basic commands and you trust him to heed your commands. This is very important. If your dog hasn’t shown that he’ll listen and obey when you tell him to “stay,” “sit,” “drop it,” and “leave it,” then you could have major problems controlling him at the dog park. That being said, you can still bring him to the park to socialize at this stage, just don’t take him off of his leash.

If, on the other hand, your puppy knows all the basic commands and you trust him, then he’s definitely ready to meet the other puppies and small breeds at the dog park. We strongly advise, however, that you don’t let him off leash in the large breed section of the park. And if the park isn’t segregated with a strong boundary line, like a fence, to keep the large dogs away from the small dogs, then you might want to reconsider that particular park. You do not want your puppy to have a negative, intimidating experience with a large dog. If this happens, your puppy could remain afraid of dog parks and large dogs for life.


Once your puppy has gotten comfortable socializing with other people, children, and dogs at the dog park, he may be ready for environments with complex stimuli, such as stores. Obviously, not all stores allow dogs, but many of them do. Petland is one of them! Keep your puppy on his leash when you bring him into Petland or other retail stores that allow dogs. Be slow and patient with him, and allow him to sniff around and say hello to the shoppers. It’s a good idea to have dog treats on hand. You can even supply strangers with the treats to feed your puppy. This way, your puppy is sure to have a positive experience meeting new people!

So there you have it! Socializing your fur baby should be a fun, easy process, but don’t forget that it is ongoing. Socializing your puppy throughout the full 8 months to a year of “puppyhood” is vital. And even after puppyhood, socialization goes on. Be sure to stay attentive to your puppy and teach him how to behave during every interaction he has by giving him positive feedback for good behavior. 

Are you ready for a new dog? If so, check out the available puppies at Petland Texas, or stop by one of our Texas locations to meet your new furry friend!