Get em' while they're young: Puppy Socials for happy dogs
I don’t think it’s a stretch to call the joy of bringing your puppy home, Magical. They are so floppy, so fuzzy, and an endless subject source of Instagram posts. Maintaining the positive feelings towards your new pup is also dependent on making sure they behave politely towards friends, family, and other pets. Ensuring that puppies are properly socialized (exposed to other people, dogs, sounds, smells, and experiences) will set you and your puppy up for a successful relationship. But puppies need to be safely exposed to the world around them, which is why Wag Hotels offers free weekly Puppy Socials. Our Puppy Socials are intentionally designed to be a free community resource for owners to bring in their puppies to play and learn.
Aubrey Sanders, CPDT-KA is Area Services Manager for Wag University and Wag Spa explains early puppy development and why our Puppy Socials are such a great resource:
"It's important that if you do decide to adopt a young pup, that the pup remains with the mother and litter until at least 8 weeks old; and if longer that's even better! As soon as you bring your pup home, be sure to continue their dog-dog social learning by setting up safe social scenarios for them at least twice per week if not more. Puppy Socials are a good way to introduce your puppy to other dogs, in a safe environment. We strive to create a space that’s super clean and one where puppies can play on their own terms. We don’t force dogs to play with each other. We set up the room to have safe corners, so if a puppy is feeling a little shy, they can watch the more confident puppies play without being put in the middle of it.”
All of our hotel locations offer Puppy Social 1, which is for ages 8-16 weeks (2-4 months), and many of our locations offer Puppy Social 2 for dogs aged 16-24 weeks (4-6 months old). Because different things happen at different ages, the activities owners and puppies will focus on vary from week to week. As your puppy grows, they will normally start displaying different behaviors.
Aubrey explained that there are many developmental stages a dog will go through, but two to keep in mind are Fear Impact Period 1 and Fear Impact Period 2. Around 2-3 months old, a puppy experiencing any trauma may have a lasting impression. New experiences must be non-threatening and extra care should be taken to make a puppy feel safe. This is the perfect time to ensure your puppy is having the most fun possible and is enjoying themselves. Fearful adult behaviors can result from experiences a puppy perceives as threatening, which is one of the reasons why we love offering this community resource to puppies at this age.
At 6-14 months old, a puppy’s Fear Impact Period 2 starts. Much like anyone with a human baby knows, development will involve regressive periods. Experiences that were totally fine yesterday, might all of a sudden seem scary to a pup. Making sure that they are not forced into experiencing something that seems scary, but are allowed to explore safely and are rewarded with lots of positive reinforcement, can help navigate this stage with greater ease.
Puppy Socials incorporate educational training games so owners can learn along with their puppy. These games are designed to help facilitate socialization and include holding your puppy; touching its paws, ears, and tail so vet exams can be less scary down the road. Our behaviorists who facilitate Puppy Socials, will point out different behaviors and what they mean. Empowering owners to understand appropriate play, dog body language, and cues, will help you to make decisions about the kinds of activities your dog might enjoy or benefit from as they grow up.
A well socialized pup will be less likely to have poor manners, be involved in playground squabbles, or become a danger to friends and family. With the basics of playing well with other dogs to build upon, dogs can then participate in more in-depth training; sit, stay, fetch, or agility, as they mature.
Puppies need to register and have their first set of vaccines in order to participate. Sign up today by calling 888-WAG-LINE. For a complete schedule of the puppy socials in your area, click here.