Socializing Your Dog will Increase his Confidence

Confident dogs learn from socialization.

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As soon as you bring your new puppy home, start introducing it to the following:

People: different ages; races; wearing hats; with unusual hair; beards; or with an unusual gait, such as someone with a walker or crutches.

Dogs: dogs of different breeds and sizes, plus cats and other animals.

Environments: fields; streets; stairs; elevators (for city dogs); walking on cement, asphalt, grass, carpet and linoleum; noisy places, such as childrens soccer games; and being inside, as well as outside different buildings.

Its important to show your new puppy all the sights, but its also important not to overwhelm your puppy and to make sure the exposures are positive ones. Ensure any dogs you introduce your pup to are friendly and well behaved. Ask children to approach the puppy one at a time and not run up yelling.

As soon as your pup knows how to sit, ask it to sit as strangers approach and give them a treat to reward the puppy. Don't take a puppy that came from a quiet country home and suddenly put it down on the sidewalk in a big city. Carry it to a park and let it adjust to the new sounds and smells gradually.

A puppy that's showing signs of stress needs a break. These signs can vary greatly with the individual pup. An overwhelmed puppy may:

- Quietly shut down

- Become hyperactive

- Snap or bark in a frightened fashion

- Yawn, pant, whine or lick its lips

If you note any of those signs, its time to pick up your pup and take it home or to a safe, quite spot to rest. On the same note, if your puppy acts truly afraid, quietly pick it up and back away from the situation. Do not make a big deal out of its fear, but don't reinforce it by praising for fearful reactions either.

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