What is Socialization? Get your Puppy ready for the world

You may already know that we are always looking for ways to support our beloved Habibi Bear Tribe with crucial information to make your life easier with your Habibi Bear puppy. This week in that tradition, we are going to talk about a buzzword that gets a lot of juice but is easily misinterpreted-socialization. 

What is Socialization: 

Socialization is a term coined by sociologists to describe the process of learning how to adapt to the norms of a culture or society, one which is also applied to dogs as well as other domestic animals, with a slight twist. When we talk about socializing dogs, we refer to a puppy's preparation and exposure to new situations, items, people, animals and activities. Done in a gentle and methodical manner, socialization is an integral part in the development of a well-adjusted, confident dog. Socialization is not taking your pup to a dog park, overwhelming them with hordes of unknown dogs, and hoping for the best. 

Why Socialize?   

When we expose our beloved Habibi Bear guys and gals to new things, people, or animals, we can avoid many behavioral issues from arising as they grow and mature. As puppy parents, it is our job to help our Habibi Bear pups be the very best version of themselves as they can be.
Here are some of the common problems that can develop without proper socialization:
  1. Fear of new people
  2. Fear of new dogs (which can develop into aggression) 
  3. Anxiety 
  4. Sound sensitivity 
  5. Reactivity and Difficulty in handling. 

How do we socialize? 

The very first thing to keep in mind is that socialization is an extremely easy and doable task, lasting less than 15 minutes for each mini-session. In fact, going over 15 minutes could actually increase the chances of a negative association, increasing the stress level of your Habibi Bear pup. Keeping a session short can work in your favor, the shorter the exposure, the increased likelihood of a positive impression and memory. 

The second thing to remember is to load up on your treats! Have a bagful of favorite or high value treats ready to reward your brave little Habibi Bear warrior for their valor! Treats are all a part of evoking a positive emotional response and make it much more fun for puppy. Puppy will be excited to meet or explore new things, because they remember that Treats are the Big Pay-Off! When having visitors at your house, consider providing treats for them so that they can dispense treats to puppy. This can easily teach puppy that strangers are new friends, and nothing to be feared. 

Remember, never force an interaction. In fact, in the case of people, animals, or objects, direct interaction is not necessary. An interaction could be as slight as a willingness to smell or approach an unfamiliar item before a treat is given. In short, be ready to reward curiosity and give puppy an A+ for effort. 

Speaking of smells- Remember, a dog’s primary sense is smell. We can use that to our advantage and take our Habibi Bear pup on walks where lots of dogs and people walk, where through their sense of smell, they will be exposed to hundreds of people and dogs, making our jobs so much easier. 

Don’t Forget to carefully observe your Habibi Bear pup’s body language during the mini-training session. Watch for signs of stress/distress: ears back/down, licking lips, panting/drooling, yawning or scratching. Allow puppy to be in control and move away, or lead puppy away and try again another time. 

Socialization is an ongoing process that each and every dog can benefit from no matter how old they are, it is never too late to learn new things. With you by their side, your Habibi Bear puppy can conquer the world. 

How many new experiences and things did you expose your Habibi Bear puppy to when they were little? Do you have any cute or inspiring anecdotes to share with us? Want your Habibi Bear guy or gal to be our featured Super Pup? Slide into our DM’s or email us. We love hearing from our Habibi Bear Tribe. We are always here for you, cheering you on!