How Do I Safely Introduce My New Puppy to New Things?

Adopting a puppy often fills us with such tremendous hope and joy that we immediately introduce the new pet to everything and everyone, including friends, the dog park, and even the family car. But not so fast! “All of these things are stimulating to puppies and can overwhelm them,” says Sarah Wilson, leading dog trainer and author of My Smart Puppy. She adds that if you’re not careful, some puppies could get frightened, especially if they are going through a puppy fear period.

How to introduce these new experiences to your furry pal without overwhelming it? “Keep everything short and sweet,” says Wilson. “You want every experience to be positive and fun for puppies, so they want to do it again.”

How Should I Transport My Puppy In the Car?

Not every dog loves car rides, which is why slowly introducing them to automobiles makes sense. Take only short trips at first, picking fun destinations, Wilson says. Over time, you can lengthen the trips.

If your puppy shows fear, take smaller steps to start. First, sit with your puppy in the car with the motor off for several minutes. Then offer a reward, such as a small food treat, for hanging out. Next, try short car drives followed by longer ones.

Since dogs are creatures of habit, assign your puppy a specific place in the car, and put familiar bedding or toys there. “Make the car ride as routine as possible to help puppies settle down, especially if they get agitated or sick during rides,” says Sarah Hodgson, a world-renowned expert on puppy-raising and author of Puppies for Dummies 2019. You could assign your puppy to sit in its crate or be secured with a seat belt or a puppy car seat. Just don’t drive with a dog in your lap because that can put all passengers in danger.

For further tips on keeping your puppy safe while traveling in the car, see our article ‘How Do I Keep My Dog Safe in the Car?

When Should You Start Socializing Your Puppy?

Socialization is the most important thing you can do for your puppy. Lack of socialization can cause dogs to develop aggression or phobias. The ideal time to socialize puppies occurs before they’re six months old. Dogs older than six months can still be socialized, but it will take extra effort. 

What Is the Best Way To Socialize a Puppy?

Ideal starting places are puppy classes or playdates arranged with socialized dogs.

When introducing your puppy to various places, people and distractions, use a calm but cheerful voice. Observe how your puppy responds. If your puppy seems nervous or excited when experiencing something new, do what Hodgson calls “bracing.” Kneel and place one hand on the puppy’s waist and the other on its chest. In a consoling voice, say “calm.”

When taking your puppy to meet other dogs, ask the owners if their pets are socialized. If any uncertainty exists, try to meet the other dog by yourself, and notice how it behaves. To be safe, choose neutral territory for the doggy introductions, so neither feels threatened. Meeting on neutral territory is especially important if the other dog is older.

I just brought home a new puppy and am eager to teach her as much as I can. How can I best socialize my pup so that she will bond with my family, behave well, be as smart as possible, and develop confidence?

A critical learning period for your puppy is when she is between 4 and 14 weeks old. During this time, she will absorb information about the world that could affect her for the rest of her life. Therefore, you must expose her to as many different places, people, and experiences as possible. When doing so, make sure these times are favorable and quell any fears you detect. Humans undergo a similar period of intense learning; only ours goes further into childhood and adolescence.

Usually, puppies that encounter cats can later bond with felines, so try to introduce your dog to a cat during this period. A trick to get your puppy geared up for future veterinary office visits is to place your pet on your washing machine when turned off. The height and slippery surface mimic the metal tables at veterinary clinics, allowing your pet to get accustomed to this sensation in a more relaxed environment.

How Do You Introduce a New Puppy To Your Dog?

If you currently have a senior dog and are thinking about getting a new puppy, check out our article ‘Should You Get Your Senior Dog a Puppy Companion?‘ 

I have a 5-year-old male, Shih Tzu, and I was recently given a 10-week-old female Shih Tzu puppy. My older dog does not like this puppy. What can I do to help them bond?

Shih Tzu dogs are generally amiable and open to making new connections. According to Eve Adamson, author of Shih Tzu for Dummies, it’s not uncommon for an owner to have three or more such dogs living happily together. “That doesn’t mean your resident dog won’t be jealous or a little put out by the presence of a new dog in the house,” says Adamson.

She advises that introductions be made slowly and under your supervision. Your adult dog may have to be on a leash, but keep it loose, so he doesn’t feel too restricted. Hold the introductory get-together on neutral territory — not where one or both dogs frequently hang out. In particular, your male dog may become more territorial if he encounters the new puppy at his favorite special locations.

Dogs live in packs, so they need to work relationships out on their terms. Your goal should be to minimize any aggression and scrapping during this relationship-building stage. Keep your new puppy’s food separate to ensure that she can eat it in peace without worrying about your adult dog “stealing” it. Finally, give both pets plenty of attention so that neither one feels left out.

How Old Should a Puppy Be Before Going To a Dog Park?

A dog park can be a fun setting for your puppy; however, it’s best to wait until your pet is between 6 and 8 months of age to go to the park. “Before then, puppies are too impulsive and aren’t mindful of other dogs’ posture, which could make them a victim of a dog attack,” says Hodgson.

How Do You Introduce a Puppy To the Dog Park?

When your puppy is ready, first make sure the park attracts friendly dogs. Once in the park, watch your pet closely. If anything threatens your puppy, or if your puppy’s body language changes, leave quickly. 

Overall, remember that as your puppy’s advocate and protector, you need to pay attention to its response when facing new experiences. “If your puppy’s tail is low or he starts clinging to you, the situation is too much,” says Wilson. “But if your puppy’s tail is up and wagging, everything’s OK.”

Article written by Author: Karen Asp, and The Dog Daily Expert

How Do I Safely Introduce My New Puppy to New Things

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