The importance of puppy socialization
What is the most important thing to teach a new puppy?
When people bring a new puppy home many people immediately starts focusing on obedience training. While obedience training is great and starting at a young age will set the puppy up for success, it is NOT the most important part of raising a puppy. There is no time limit for obedience training. You can teach a dog obedience at 8 weeks or 8 years. Contrary to popular belief an old dog can learn new tricks. With a little bit of effort you can teach your older dog to do the same behaviors as your puppy.
Your first priority as a new puppy owner should be socialization. Socialization is creating purposeful and positive experiences for your puppy so he can live with confidence in a human world. What many people do not know is that puppies have a critical socialization period. This is a brief window of time when your puppy must be introduced to anything you would like him to cope with as an adult dog. Depending on the puppy this window closes around 12 to 18 weeks of age. What happens during this time period will have a long lasting impact on their behavioral wellness as an adult. Under-socialized puppies may have behavioral problems later in life. The severity of the problem will depend on the individual dog. Due to this, socialization must always take priority over obedience training
How do I socialize my puppy?
Socialization is not the same as exposure. The puppy must have a positive experience with whatever you want him to cope with as an adult dog. Do not force your puppy into anything. Forcing a puppy to do something will have a negative impact. Let him take his time exploring. You can encourage a puppy to do something and reward him for doing it, but do not force him.
To avoid your puppy becoming dog or even human reactive, socialize him with as many people and dogs as possible. He should meet people of all sexes and races as well as anything you want him to cope well with as an adult. Well socialized puppies will grow up to be well balanced dogs. Many dog attacks and bites could be prevented if the dog was correctly socialized as a puppy.