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Why Early Puppy Socialization Matters

Updated: May 8

lab puppy using lick mat at vet

Bringing home a playful pup is a whirlwind of joy, but it's also a prime time for shaping their future personality. Did you know that is a developmental window of opportunity that cannot be replicated later in life that ends around 16 weeks at the latest? The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) stresses the importance of introducing your new companion to the world before all vaccinations are finished. This might sound counterintuitive, but here's the surprising truth: proper socialization during this window is crucial to prevent behavioral problems, the biggest reason young dogs end up in shelters.


Imagine a human baby who's never met another child or been to a park. Everyday experiences can be overwhelming for them. Puppies go through a similar phase between 7-16 weeks old, where they're most receptive to positive encounters with new people, animals, and environments. Socialization during this time helps your pup develop coping skills and become a confident, well-adjusted adult dog.

So, how can you SAFELY introduce your pup to the world BEFORE all rounds of vaccination are complete?  

fox red lab puppy

The AVSAB recommends puppy socialization and training programs as early as 7-8 weeks old, provided they've had some initial vaccinations and deworming. These experiences should be in a controlled setting where pups can interact with balanced adult dogs who can continue to reinforce social cues and also allow your puppy to learn that new experiences aren't harmful or threatening. Too many throw puppies into "romper room" puppy classes where they are over stimulated and too arousing, which leads to poor choices and a negative connotation for your dog. You can also carry your pup in a secure carrier on short outings or invite friends and family with well-tempered dogs over for short supervised playtime. The goal is to expose your pup to different sights and sounds in a safe way and predicatble way where you can control the outcome and ensure your puppy has a positive experience.

Houston DogWorks offers early puppy development programs, which include safe socialization opportunities, designed to give your new best friend a head start in life!

Our trainers will guide you through the puppy socialization process, ensuring your pup develops the confidence and social skills needed to become a happy, well-behaved dog.

Ready to raise a fantastic canine companion?

Check out Houston DogWorks' puppy programs today to find the one that's right for you and your family.

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