The key to having a happy, well-behaved dog is properly socializing your puppy. In this post we’ll share some simple tips to help your Goldendoodle become an upstanding canine citizen.
Why Is Socializing Your Puppy Important?
Socializing your puppy is extremely important because a puppy’s experiences within the first 4 months of his life will permanently shape his future personality.
You might have seen a dog cringe when you go to pet it, heard horror stories of children being bitten by a dog. Or maybe you’ve experienced the hair-raising snarl of a suspicious canine, first hand.
None of these scenarios are fun, and all of them are sad, in that they could have likely been avoided, if the dog would have been properly socialized from a young age.
A well-socialized dog means a relaxed, safe dog. If your Goldendoodle is confident and comfortable in new situations, he’ll be much less likely to become shy, fearful, or aggressive in moments of fear.
Which means, as a dog parent, your most crucial job is developing a well adjusted puppy, through proper socialization.
How Do I Socialize My Puppy?
Now that we’ve established the importance of puppy socialization, let’s get down to basics – how YOU can raise a happy, well behaved ‘Doodle that will truly become your next best friend – and avoid situations like the ones mentioned above.
Introduce New Sights, Sounds, and Smells
To a puppy, the whole world is a new, unusual experience. So think of everything he encounters as an exciting opportunity to show him these new encounters as positive and fun.
Try to come up with as many new sights, smells, people, animals, noises, places, and textures as you can, and introduce your puppy to them. Need ideas? Here is a list to help you get started:
- Men, women, and children in all different ages, sizes and ethnicities
- Unfamiliar clothing such as hats, sunglasses, hoodies and so on
- Parks, bodies of water, and the woods
- Neighborhood objects such as benches, strollers, signs, and bicycles
- Other dogs
- Common household items such as the hair dryer, vacuum cleaner, umbrella, and bubble wrap
- Cats, and other unfamiliar animals
- Body handling including ears, tail, and paws
- Different ground surfaces – hardwood, tile, pavement, gravel and so forth
- Lawnmowers, hoses, and garden tools
- Busy city streets
Keep It Positive
When introducing these all these new experiences to your Goldendoodle, the key is to keep them positive, so that your puppy feels safe.
Be lavish with your praise, and add chewable treats to all social experiences; this way he will associate new encounters as a fun experience.
Stay calm in new situations. Dogs can sense our emotions, so if you’re letting your ‘Doodle meet an older dog, for example, and you are nervous, your puppy is likely to feel nervous too, and become fearful of other dogs in the future.
Take It Slow
Another important part in socializing your puppy, is recognizing your puppy’s limits. It’s important not to wear out your puppy with too many new experiences at once.
Goldendoodle puppies are seemingly unflappable, but they are actually sensitive souls who can easily become overwhelmed.
For example, if you want your Goldendoodle puppy to be ok with multiple family members handling him, it is best to start with one person, then slowly integrate 2 and then 3 and so on.
Starting this process at a party, or letting a group of excited children crowd the new puppy, would be an overwhelming sensory overload for your ‘Doodle, causing him to fear groups of strangers in the future.
“The important thing is your dog needs to feel comfortable, not trapped,” says Ellen M. Lindell, president of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists. Your job is to gauge your ‘Doodle’s body language, and determine when your puppy needs a break from all the new sensory stimulation.
Let your Goldendoodle go at his own pace. Forcing your puppy to “deal with it” when he’s stressed or uncomfortable will make the problem worse.
Final Thoughts On socializing your puppy
While socializing your Goldendoodle is foundational when he’s a puppy, look at it as a life-long process. Just like us humans, dogs need mental stimulation, and broadening horizons to remain smart and healthy.
Being patient with your Goldendoodle helps, but you don’t have to spend hours every day socializing your puppy. Frequent, short sessions instead of one long one, works best.
Get in the habit of taking your puppy with you as much as you can – on walks, to the pet store, visiting a friend, or just a drive around the block.
All of these tips successfully help to equip your Doodle with social skills that will last him his entire life, and you’ll have the most charming, confident ‘Doodle anyone would be proud to own!
Need more Goldendoodle training tips? Read more here!