So you just brought home your first Christmas puppy. Congrats! You are in for a world of snuggles, wet kisses, laughter and let’s face it, training.

Yep, that cute little buddle of joy is going to brighten your world this 2021, but they are going to need a little bit of help growing up from that cute, rambunctious furball into the well-behaved doggo you’ve always dreamed of. One of the main things we like to share with our new pet parents is the importance of good ole puppy socialization. It’s like tiny-human pre-school, but for your fur baby! 

Puppy socialization is super important to the healthy growth and development of your new bundle of furry joy and it starts on day 1! Doing this successfully will help them avoid things like generalized anxiety, separation anxiety and fear when you introduce them to new situations. Like meeting your best friend’s lab named Tom. Yep, Tom. Just go with it. 

In this blog post, we’ll dig up some facts on why all of this matters, how to safely socialize your new furry family member and how Hounds Lounge can help your puppy learn solid social skills.

So, what exactly is puppy socialization? 

Puppy socialization is the process of introducing your fur baby to all different types of sniffs, sights, and noises that they may experience during their early lives. This helps them build confidence to experience new things without too much fear and anxiety. Puppy socialization is not just introducing them to other new doggos!

Pug in ugly christmas sweater staying warm during the winter

The Importance of Puppy Socialization

Proper puppy socialization helps dogs avoid problem behaviors that may develop later in life, such as aggressiveness, destructiveness and disobedience. (No half-eaten shoes around here!) Successful socialization will help your fur baby grow into the lovable, furry companion that you have wanted all along. It will also help your new puppy to behave safely around family, friends, children, strangers, vets and other dogs.

Christmas Antlers On Dog

The Prime Time for Puppy Socialization

According to the American Kennel Association, the sweet spot for puppy socialization is from 7 weeks of age to 4 months. If you welcomed a new fur family member this holiday season, that means now is the time for socialization to begin! This period will fall amidst your puppy’s vaccination schedule at 6-8, 10-12 and 14-16 weeks. 

The 6 “Do’s” of Puppy Socialization

#1: Begin socializing your pup during the golden time frame of 7 weeks of age to 4 months. 

Our veterinarian friends agree that this is the prime time to let your pup begin taking in new experiences and meeting other hoomans and dogs. During these key weeks, puppies begin to form judgments about the world. (Mmmmm, peanut butter treats!) And these experiences can affect their temperament, ability to cope with change and overall confidence. 

dog with peanut butter treat at Hounds Lounge Riverdale

#2: Keep your puppy safe from communicable diseases and other hazards

New puppy owners must be careful of places that their newest family members can catch diseases. Dog parks, doggie daycares, and other places he or she could be exposed to urine or feces are off-limits until 7-10 days after their completed vaccination schedules — which is why we have a strict vaccination policy. We want to keep all our furry loves safe!

Some ideas for safe puppy socialization before a completed vaccination schedule include:

  • Inviting friends over to meet your new pup in his or her own home
  • Allowing your pup to meet a friend’s dog with completed vaccinations 
  • Taking your puppy on plenty of car rides (go see the Christmas lights!)
  • Stopping at a sidewalk cafe for human interaction and grab a pupachino 
  • Carrying your puppy in public to get the benefits of socialization without the risk of diseases
  • Placing a blanket or towel down in public spaces like parks and keeping your pup on a leash so they don’t leave the boundaries

If you’re worried about your new Christmas pup getting too cold, please see our winter safety blog!

Dog getting a Treat at Hounds Lounge

#3: Reward your pup for pawesome behavior

If your new puppy interacted with a human or another dog confidently, calmly and gently, give them a treat for being so brave! Be sure to reward them for great behavior to show him or her that they are doing an outstanding job socializing and adjusting. 

Sweet, Beautiful dog at doggy daycare

#4: Make sure the whole family is on board with your puppy’s exploration

Getting a Christmas puppy means the whole family can be accountable for your new pup’s development and training. By including the entire family in this adjustment period, your new fur baby will learn to be comfortable with multiple humans in many types of situations. This will play a role in their adaptability to change as adults, too. Try switching up who takes them for a ride or a walk and be sure to introduce them to plenty of new furry and human friends!

Dog in front of Christmas Tree

#5: Bathe, groom, and handle your puppy often

A key goal of puppy socialization is desensitizing your puppy to being handled, groomed, bathed and bothered. This way, they can feel calm and safe during handling by kids, vets, family, friends and strangers. 

If you have a filthy puppy, bring them into our Hounds Lounge Spa for a DIY dog wash to get them accustomed to bathing. If you’re curious about our self-wash stations, here is what you can expect during your DIY dog wash hour. Additionally, we highly encourage new pet parents to rub on ears & paws to get them used to having their ears cleaned & nails trimmed.

If you have a new woof that will require consistent spa days, begin brushing them at a very young age so they get accustomed to the process. You likely brush your hair every day, why should your doggo be any different? If your woof is giving you the wiggles, perhaps fill a kong with peanut butter or find a long-lasting treat that they can enjoy while you brush. Another great suggestion is to hold an electric toothbrush handle near their face & paws so they can become familiar with the vibrations of clippers & nail filings.

dog giving a high five

#6: Make a reservation for your pup at doggie daycare at Hounds Lounge

Once your pup has turned 14 weeks old and has received all of their vaccinations, they are welcome to join us for doggie daycare at Hounds Lounge! The first day of doggie daycare is a temperament test to assess your new pup’s socialization in our pack. It’s also free! 

Dog in a cute vest

Hounds Lounge is Here to Help

We know how important it is to see your Christmas baby grow up into the fur-ever life companion that you have wanted for so long. Follow the steps and pawcautions in this guide to ensure a healthy adjustment period for your new four-legged family member. 

And if you are interested in doggie daycare at Hounds Lounge, we would like to offer you the first day completely free! You can try out a half (6 hours) or full-day (12 hours) of daycare and get to know some of our dog-loving staff, as well. We require completed vaccination records plus a two-week wait for every pup that comes in to ensure the optimal health and safety of each woof and human.

Dog with blanket during thunderstorm

How Doggie Daycare at Hounds Lounge Works

We divide our furry guests based on size & play style into different play yards for safety at all three of our locations in Riverdale, North Little Rock, West Little Rock and Fayetteville. We are open from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM M-F, 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM on Saturday, and 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM on Sunday. Please call one of our facilities for more information on doggie daycare, vaccination requirements and all other inquiries or read more on our doggie daycare page.

Small dog wearing a Santa outfit

Verifying Vaccinations Prior to Doggie Daycare

To get signed up for your Christmas kid’s first day of play, click here to create a new pet profile. Once the profile is complete, you will request your dog’s first day of play reservation which will trigger our humans to contact your vet to verify all vaccines. If your woof is all up-to-date, we will send you a confirmation email. If not, we will notify you of what vaccines are still required. Please allow 48-72 hours for us to confirm vaccines or upload copies to the pet profile. 

We do encourage first-day woofs to arrive in the first hour after the lobby opens so your new baby can be slowly introduced to new furriends versus showing up mid-day and being the new kid at the pawty.

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