How to Socialize and Prepare Your Puppy for a Happy Life in Society

Many feel that socializing your puppy means to get it out and about with other dogs, interacting and playing, so your puppy will learn how to get along.  This is certainly good, but there are many forms of socializing that go un-noticed and therefore neglected.

how to socialize your puppy start now with small golden retriever puppy in harness

Our friend and amazing dog trainer, Gillian Ridgeway from Who’s Walking Who, shares great tips on how to begin socializing your puppy that will help your puppy grow into a happy, well behaved dog and companion.

Hero's little sister Ms Marvel the Border Collie Rescue Puppy

How To Socialize Your Puppy With Other Dogs

Many owners get the okay from their Veterinarian, race off and immediately toss their dogs into the chaos of an off-lead dog park.  This can be a great place for your puppy to meet friends and have fun, and it is certainly a perfect place for all the dog parents to socialize. However, unsupervised interaction in an unfamiliar park can have detrimental effects on more dogs than your own.


Socializing your dog at the dog park should be done carefully and under a watchful eye.  Each dog has their own temperament and mannerisms.  These may include being boisterous and friendly or under confidant and shy.  To simply toss them all into the same mix can be a mistake. Start off slowly.

white puppy plays with tan and black puppy showing you "How to determine Good versus Bad Puppy Play"

Check out the dog park before you take your puppy there. Find a dog-friendly park that is not overrun with all the dogs of the neighbourhood, or full of big aggressive dogs or inattentive owners.  Try to find a quiet time.  Take your pup to meet a few friendly dogs at a time.  Stay close by and don’t get yourself too distracted at this initial stage. If your dog tends to be shy, keep socializing. Your dog will gain confidence with experience.

Ask Yourself: Is YOUR Puppy the Dog Park Bully?


You may not notice at first.  You may think that your pup is just having a good time and chances are he or she sure is!  It is important to monitor the type of play your dog exhibits with others. Many dogs play rough with one another, but it is a problem when it escalates.  If there is one pup who is continually jumping on the backs of others, who continues to chase and pester and who the other dogs seem to try to escape from, there is need for a little time out.  This is just a cool down period. He or she will learn that if play gets excessive, he or she will be removed.  This is not only for his or her sake, but just as importantly, for the sake of the other puppies around her.

Try A Puppy Class

Socializing your pup in the comfort of a puppy class is always a great idea.  You will learn what normal play looks like and when, where and how to step in to help, all under the educated eye of a professional dog trainer.

Adorable white and tan puppy chews toy on grass at Paws in the Park

Getting your pup exposed to as many situations and scenarios as possible is very important. Your puppy will become accustomed to your local park and neighbourhood, but you want your puppy to be comfortable in any location. This comes with a simple solution, take your puppy everywhere! Walking around strip malls, going for car and transit rides, even getting into different parks and places will help.  While this may seem like a bit of a chore, it is very important that you get this done early on.

“Socializing doesn’t mean walking down the same street, the same park, meeting the same people, the same dogs at the same time of day. So mix it up! The more you expose your dog to during this window, it will really help your puppy know that if something unusual happens, they will be able to cope.”

Cute Doxie Puppy

The more you expose your puppy to earlier on, the easier socialization will be. Carry your pup to noisier areas, go on the subway, have the public pat and hold your pup, and take your pup to play dates and friends’ homes (even better if they have children and dogs).  Make sure your puppy has the chance to meet people from all walks of life.  Make sure that some of your time together is spent in noisier areas of your community.  Playing, training and feeding your puppy in these various environments will promote confidence in your puppy.

Give Your Dog The Gift of Confidence

TH adorable puppy at CPE

There is another important factor in socializing your puppy.  Use it, or lose it.  Getting your pup exposed to many different situations is fabulous, but you need to continuously do it.   Learning never ends!

Giving your dog the gift of confidence is one of the greatest gifts of all.  You will feel good if you know that your dog is comfortable and at ease in any environment.  Car rides, travel, walks and making new friends, human or canine, will become enjoyable to your puppy! You will have taught your puppy that life is grand.  Provide this opportunity for your pup and you will know you have done your very best.

Read More About The Importance of Socializing Your Dog HERE 

About Gillian Ridgeway

Gillian Ridgeway is a renowned trainer, speaker, and published author. She is a member in good standing of both the Canadian Association of Professional Pet Dog Trainers and International Positive Dog Trainers Association. She founded Who’s Walking Who Dog Training Centres and has been serving the greater GTA in various locations ever since, training over 250 dogs per week with a very skilled training team.

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  • Socializing is so important and cannot be stressed enough with new puppy parents. Thanks for sharing such a great article and lesson.

  • I agree with Tonya! I didn’t spend enough time socializing our doxie and there are areas we always have to work on as a result. I took him around strangers as a puppy and we did puppy class as well but I didn’t expose him to a lot of children and he barks at any toddler now. So we’re working on this but it’s probably the number one best thing you can do…

  • I wish someone had socialized Bentley early! I got him at a year and a half, and he was already scared of larger dogs and a bit reactive. He’s improved, but it would have been easier as a puppy.

  • Mr. N had barely any socialization as a puppy. Thankfully, he’s pretty adept at new situations despite that. I think the biggest result is he’s dog reactive but it’s out of excitement so it’s easier to handle. Thanks for joining the hop!