Puppy socialization starts when they are about 3 weeks old and ends at around 16-20 weeks. This is a crucial time in a dog’s life because it is when they are most receptive to learning. A puppy that is not socialized properly is likely to be anxious or afraid when in contact with certain people, animals, environments or noises throughout his/her life.
Your puppy needs to learn to be okay with what is happening around him/her and feel at ease when experiencing the world. Once your puppy reaches 20 weeks old, it becomes very difficult to help him/her feel comfortable in certain situations or to teach them to like something that is unfamiliar. They will act more apprehensive in new situations if they are not socialized enough, and they may become anxious or aggressive when challenged by something they have never encountered before.
You’re probably wondering what you should be socializing your puppy to. Exposing your puppy to some of the following people, noises, animals and scents will help him/her get acclimated with the world and be more calm in new situations:
People – children, babies, men, women, tall people, short people, bald people, old people, bearded men, homeless people, people of different ethnicities
Noises – trucks, fireworks, rain, thunder, TVs, music, firetrucks, ambulances, vacuum cleaners
Other Animals - cats, other puppies/dogs, farm animals
Scents – grass, dirt, snow, other dogs/animals
You don’t have to expose your new puppy to everything mentioned above, but you should expose him/her to enough things so that new experiences at any age aren’t a scary thing.