Now that Fisher has had all of his vaccinations he is 100% safe to play with other dogs. We have really tried to get him out and about to socialize him with other dogs and people so he is not as scared.
He is only 12 weeks old (still our little baby!) and still quite nervous around other people and dogs. He used to try and bolt in the opposite direction. Now, although still timid at first, he willingly walks up to others and eventually plays. Clearly, he has come a long way already!
The first 16 weeks of a dog’s life are crucial for socialization. Between the age of 8-16 weeks they are very impressionable. If they are not socialized you run the high risk of having a dog who will grow up scared of people/dogs, aggressive of unknown people/dogs, behavioral problems, separation anxiety, etc. Not saying that these issues will completely go away if you socialize your dog, each dog is different and full of personality, but if you do socialize your dog, they will be much less likely to have those problems.
Last weekend we took Fisher to brunch with us and sat on an outdoor patio. He had lots of visitors wanting to come by and pet him. This was his first BIG social outing and he was not too sure about it at first. By the time we were done with our brunch though, he was laying down at our feet and letting anyone walk up to him to say hi. He did such a good job! On our way to the car, there was a farmers market so we walked him through it, he stole the show with his cuteness, but socialized like a champ!
Since then when he has seen other dogs, he has not tried to bolt in the other direction (unless after playing he becomes scared because most dogs are bigger than him). So much progress, but we only have 4 weeks left until the prime socialization window is still open. Socialization does not only mean interaction between other humans and dogs, but familiarity with strollers, shopping carts, cars, people of all ages (especially children), different textures (sand, grass, hardwood, carpet, etc.), different environments (markets, shopping centers, other people’s homes, etc.), different sounds (dishwasher, laundry machines, vacuum, honking, music, etc.). Socialization is a HUGE umbrella for puppies.
We are getting there with Fisher and our efforts will never be over even after the prime time of 16 weeks is behind us. Our current plan of action includes enrolling Fisher in obedience training… should be fun! Stay posted to hear how our boy is doing!