Getting your puppy accustomed to new situations can be challenging for the average pet owner. You want to ensure that your new furry friend gets exposure to all sorts of things, from new and novel toys to other dogs. If you’re eager to take your young pup to dog parks, send them to daycare, or set them up on playdates as they get older, they could benefit from a puppy social now.
Puppy socials allow your new dog an opportunity to interact with the world from a young age. They’re great for introducing your dog to other dogs and allowing them to experience life beyond the four walls of your home.
What can you expect from a puppy social? Here are a few things to consider before signing your dog up!
What is a Puppy Social?
A puppy social is also referred to as a socialization class. These classes are often hosted by dog trainers at a variety of locations. They can occur at local pet stores, the park, or a trainer’s facility. Sessions typically last between forty-five minutes and one hour.
While in class, all puppies will be supervised by the trainer to ensure that everyone has a positive experience with their playtime.
The main draw to puppy socials is that they allow your puppy to interact with other dogs. But there is more to be gained than just social interaction. Some trainers also introduce a few toys to keep dogs entertained and to teach them about sharing. They may even encourage children to attend a few classes so the puppies can learn how to interact with kids.
Puppy socials can certainly be a lot of fun for both the dogs and their owners. The dogs will have ample opportunity to wear themselves out with fun. Meanwhile, owners can benefit from learning more about typical puppy behavior.
Criteria for Puppy Socialization Classes
It might sound like just anyone could host a puppy social, but this is far from the truth. While just about anyone could gather up a few puppies and let them play, they may not know how to do so safely. Safety should be the key criterion that you look for before enrolling in a puppy social class.
First, there should be some required age limits on a puppy social. You wouldn’t want your three-month-old puppy to be interacting with a senior dog. For safety purposes, all dogs should be relatively close in age.
On a similar note, a good puppy social will also divide dogs up according to their size. There is a significant difference in size between a three-month-old Rottweiler and a three-month-old Chihuahua.
By grouping dogs according to their size, trainers ensure that dogs won’t be overwhelmed or injured by a dog twice their size. This is yet another example of how safety needs to be considered before signing up for a puppy social.
You also want to attend a class that requires proof of your pup’s medical history. They should be looking for up-to-date vaccines and recent deworming. Without these crucial pieces in place, your dog could end up sick later on.
Supervision is important to the overall experience as well. You want a puppy social run by a responsible individual who has experience working with dogs. It’s even better if they have experience training dogs. This ensures that someone is around to intervene and correct issues that may come up during the session.
Adequate supervision also means that the puppy social will not be overflowing with dogs. There should be some limit to the number of puppies included so that workers can reasonably handle all of the dogs in attendance. Puppy socials can be rather large and often allow attendees to form multiple groups, but you want to ensure that there is a trainer available to assist with each group.
What to Expect During a Puppy Social
Knowing what to expect during a puppy social will help you prepare for your first class. The good news is that owners don’t have to do much. The bulk of the work falls on the trainer who organized the event. For the most part, all you have to do is show up with your puppy and be willing to spend an hour of your day allowing him or her to socialize.
Most trainers will ask that you limit your interactions with your own dog as well as the other puppies in the class. This is their time to play and socialize with one another, and you don’t want to interfere with this primary goal.
You should still pay attention, though, as you will learn what is normal to expect from your puppy. If you have any questions about specific behaviors, the trainer should also be able to help you better understand your pup.
Not everything goes smoothly at all puppy socials. If your dog becomes too aggressive or problematic for the group, you may be asked to step in. Examples of problem behaviors include persistent barking, biting, or extremely rough playing.
Trainers could request that you leash your dog. They might also put your dog behind a gate to give them space without entirely removing them from the social. After some time, your dog may be able to go back to interacting with others in a more appropriate way.
Frequently Asked Questions
Puppies should begin socializing at a fairly young age. Most puppy socials will have a minimum and maximum age. You can typically start socializing a puppy at around seven to eight weeks.
Always ask the trainer leading the puppy social what vaccines they require. Most classes require puppies to at least have their distemper and parvo shots. Some trainers may also ask for a rabies vaccination.
Adolescence is typically the most difficult puppy stage. Like human adolescents, puppies during this period (from 6 to 18 months) may start to rebel or change their behavior.
Socialize Your Puppy Frequently
Taking your new dog to a puppy social should be a regular part of your routine, especially if you have a young dog. From eight weeks old to about six months, puppies are the most impressionable they will ever be. It is important that your dog receive feedback about his interactions with other dogs and the world during this critical period of development.
A puppy social gives you access to a trainer with experience handling dogs and managing their interactions with one another. It can be a great way to give your dog some real-world experience before they get too old and too big for you to manage on your own! See if you can find one near you today.
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Learn more by watching this video: “The BIG Mistake People Are Making When Socializing Their Dog”
Garrett loves animals and is a huge advocate for all Doodle dog breeds. He owns his own Goldendoodle named Kona. In addition, he volunteers at the Humane Society of Silicon Valley, where he fosters dogs and helps animals. Garrett enjoys writing about Doodles and believes that dogs can teach humans more about how to live than humans can teach a dog.
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