Many people tell me what a good girl I am. So much that I think I really am a pretty decent member of the canine world. But it wasn’t always that way. When I was a young pup I was quite the hellion. Tearing up the couch to get my ball, eating things I shouldn’t and being terrified of the monster on wheels (I think my owners call it a vacuum).
Thanks to my owners they took the steps needed for me to learn to accept the world around me and not be afraid of it. They did a thing called socialization.
Socialization is the process of developing relationships with other living beings, people, animals and objects. Through exposure I became comfortable in certain situations, with certain customs and with certain sights, smells and sounds. Puppies can become comfortable and confident in any situation with all types of people and with any stimuli that comes their way if their owners carry out a thorough and proactive socialization regime with them. This must occur when a puppy is under 16 weeks of age. After the 4th month mark it is no longer easy for the puppy to absorb anything that he may encounter or to accept anyone that he meets. After 16 weeks the critical period is over for good. So there is no need to wait 4 months for the puppy’s shots. The dog encountering something to make it sick is not as great then the dog not being properly socialized and fearful of everything for the rest of its life.
Many owners want to reassure their puppy when it acts fearful of somebody or something. Believe me, it doesn’t make things better. It makes us dogs more afraid. Petting a dog tells the dog good job and to keep the behavior up. This is not what you want. It is much better for you and I to work through the problem. Take the puppy near the fearful item and make it a positive experience for them. Let them approach and smell the object or person. Don’t force us. This should be gradual. Start the puppy at a distance away and little by little move closer. Encourage and reward your puppy along the way. You yourself need to act happy and excited about the item to help your puppy feel the same way. (We can tell, you know)
No need to avoid things that scare your puppy, work through them all. The ultimate goal is for the puppy to be comfortable and confident around previously feared people, place and things.