You got a new puppy or kitten! Now what? Socialization is the cornerstone to a balanced, happy pet. The Primary socialization time for puppies is between 4-16 weeks and 3-10 weeks for kittens. This time in their life they are curious and want to explore the world around them. Providing a wide range of experiences for them while they are young and at a pace that they are comfortable with will give them the freedom to learn. When choosing how to socialize your pet it is important to remember to choose experiences that are physically safe, (low risk of infectious diseases) and emotionally safe. This means be very aware of your pet during these encounters to assure they are reacting well. In general there are 4 areas to focus while your pet is young; socializing with people, other animals, new locations and creating a positive environment.
When socializing your puppy or kitten with new people it is important to do so with a variety of types of people and clothing. By socializing them with people who have deeper voices, wear hoodies, hats or have beards shows your pet that even scary people can be friendly.
The next one to consider is socializing your pet with other animals. The risk is higher for them to contract an infectious disease with other animals, however if done properly you can minimize the risk and still socialize them properly. Carefully choose animals that you know are fully vaccinated and protected from parasites.
Taking your pet on outings can also be a good way to get them used to the world. Teaching them that not everything scary is going to hurt them. Choosing places with low animal traffic will help to keep the risk of them getting an infectious disease lower.
Finally focus on creating a positive environment and atmosphere for them through this process. Include treats and toys into their socialization as a reward for doing well.
If you are having trouble with socializing or behaviors in general, consult your veterinarian and they can connect you with the appropriate trainer or professional.