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Hamilton Dog Training & Puppy Socialization Classes: Why, When, and How to Do Them Right

April 23, 2019

Hamilton dog training classes are the perfect venue for your pup to meet and mingle with other puppies. However, you shouldn’t limit their socialization activities to just puppy classes. The more you expose your puppy to different people, dogs, places and things the better their chances are of becoming a well-balanced and social dog.

Is this the first time you’ve heard of puppy socialization? Fret not. Heart in Harmony’s local dog trainer, Kim Miller, discusses the importance of socialization and shares what you can do to maximize it.

Understanding Socialization

Socialization involves creating positive experiences for your puppy to various stimuli and ensuring that he’s comfortable and having a good time while doing so. According to behavioral scientists, the most significant socialization window takes place when a puppy is 4-14 weeks old. After that, the window narrows down fast.

What the puppy experienced during that socialization window would have a significant impact on how he perceives and reacts to his surroundings for the rest of his life.

Why Socialization Matters

Well-socialized puppies with solid positive foundations about their environment grow up to be optimists. Socialization at an early age helps a puppy develops a perspective that not everything unfamiliar is bad and scary. Even if they experience something bad or traumatic, they’ll more likely be able to recover quickly. It’s what makes them more resilient compared to under- or un-socialized dogs.

Under- or un-socialized canines, on the other hand, may consider anything new to be scary and dangerous. It is possible to help them overcome their fears, but it will take a lot of time and careful conditioning. As such, it is imperative that you train your dog well through private dog training near Leesburg, VA.

How to Maximize the Socialization Window

Two things cause under-socialization: lack of exposure and inappropriate exposure to stimuli. If you’re not careful, you may accidentally lead your puppy to have negative associations to the things you’re introducing them to. Here are some tips to avoid inadvertently setting back your puppy’s socialization.

  • Pay attention to “fear periods.”

During these periods, any aversive experience that your puppy may have will leave a long-lasting impact on the way he perceives his surroundings. The first phases of these periods happen when puppies are 8-10 weeks old. During these times, it is important to make sure that you create positive associations for your pup in all situations.  Pairing a tasty treat with new experiences and encounters is a great way to build positive associations.

  • Don’t take your puppy to a public dog park.

Puppies are young, curious, and vulnerable. No matter how resilient they may seem, it’s best to avoid taking them to the dog park. Not only is there a danger of disease transmission—which can be deadly since your puppy may not have complete vaccinations yet—but there’s also the risk of other dogs being too rough or attacking them. Public dog parks don’t offer the same controlled conditions of Hamilton dog training classes.

  • Supervise your puppy when meeting other humans.

Puppies meeting other people and children is fine if you keep a close eye on them. It is important to make sure that they are not roughly manhandled by enthusiastic people and that you provide them an escape when over-whelmed. Otherwise, they may develop a negative perception of people, especially children.

Join Our Dog Training Classes 

Mindful socialization at home works well with proper training. Enroll your puppy in Hearts in Harmony’s Hamilton dog training classes to help him get used to other dogs and build up his confidence. You may send us your inquiries by filling out our Contact page or sign up to our program by calling 540-454-4098.

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17008 Hamilton Station Rd.

Hamilton, VA 20158



Tel:  1-540-454-4098

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