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Puppy Clicker Training Socialization

Puppy clicker training socialization is probably the single most important thing you should work on with your new dog. It is often the most overlooked but it is such a simple concept and so easy to do to.

It is almost a tragedy that still many veterinarians will tell new dog owners to keep their puppies inside until they have all their vaccinations, these is a critical time in the life of the puppy and will determine most of its personality.

If you just got your puppy, start working on socialization before anything else (except, maybe potty training). Otherwise you will have a grown dog full of fears and behavioral problems.

Here I will explain the proper way to raise a confident and loving dog. Read carefully, some unintentional mistakes can set you back.

Why puppy socialization?

Have you ever heard about animal imprinting? How baby birds will attach to the first thing they see when they are born? That is an example of a critical developmental period. During this time the brain of the animal is open to be shaped with whatever it is that happens next.

Dogs do not necessarily have an "imprinting" period, but they do have a critical period of development during which their brains are open to form social relationships. This is the time in their life when they will learn which things are dangerous and which are not.

Golden Retriever puppy one day old by Suriya Silsaksom

The most things, people and animals your puppy interacts with during the first three months of his life, the better adjusted he will be as an adult dog. That is why dog socialization is so important.

With clicker training socialization you will let your pet explore new things in the world (in a safe and rewarding way). This will ensure he grows up being confident instead of afraid. And this is key to prevent many dog behavior problems, specially those associated with aggression later on.

When do I socialize my puppy?

Always follow the same principle for clicker training socialization: associate new things with something good!

The critical period for socializing your dog is up to 3 months of age, but your dog should continue socialization throughout its whole life. Specially throughout teenage hood.

An important thing to have in mind while doing clicker training socialization is the fact that he won't have any vaccinations until the age of 6 weeks. So, most veterinarians will advice against taking your pet outside before this time. That is OK, during the first 6-7 weeks you should work on socializing your puppy to many objects and sounds, and this can be done indoors.

A week after your puppy gets his first set of vaccinations it's time to take him to a puppy socialization class. There he will be able to play with other puppies and dogs that are well cared for and also have their vaccinations.

Always find a reputable and positive puppy socialization class, the trainer should require you and every other dog to have their vaccinations up to date.

Puppy clicker training socialization tips

Expose your furry friend to as many objects and sounds as you can think of (below you will find a useful list as well). Mainly things, places, people and animals you think your pet might encounter as an adult. For example: are you planning on leaving your dog at a boarding kennel while you travel? Then introduce him to a crate and the actual boarding kennel while he is still a puppy.

Let your canine baby explore on its own. Do not push him to explore something he is afraid of, do not make him stay near something he doesn't like. Confidently remove him form that situation and continue exploring and playing. For example: you take out the vacuum cleaner and your puppy runs aways from it. Do not try to push him near it. Let the puppy come out on his own and explore it, as soon as he is comfortably sniffing it…click and treat! Make sure that when you turn the vacuum cleaner on he is at a safe distance and won't get too scared. Again, click and treat when your puppy calms down.

Click and treat every time your pet gets near the new item. Smells it, paws it or interacts with it in any way. This will make him feel safer and encourage him to keep exploring.

Click and treat every time your pet interacts with a new person (or even you in disguise!). Again, if your pet doesn't want to approach someone, don't push him!

Click and treat every time your pet plays well with other dogs or interacts appropriately with another species (e.i., cats or birds).

Remember to always make each encounter an enjoyable one. Let your puppy freely explore and click and treat for good reactions to new things!

While you socialize you pet, teach him to use his mouth gently too!

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