Your puppy needs careful, positive exposure to all the things that he might encounter as an adult dog. A poorly socialized puppy can become an unfriendly or fearful adult dog.
A puppy’s brain is fully formed by five months. Social interactions are especially important during the first year of a dog’s life. Make sure you continue socialization throughout your dog’s life. The most important thing to remember is that you are conditioning your dog to enjoy strangers, other dogs, and animals. You must manage the situation so that your pup is not overwhelmed or traumatized.
Take your puppy to safe places, and expose him to positive interactions with people or other dogs several times a week. Puppies need to be exposed to many different people in order to generalize the concept that people are okay. If your puppy looks a bit fearful (closed mouth, rounded eyes, flicking tongue, yawning or turning away to avoid contact), ask the people to stand still and let the puppy approach them. Have strangers toss treats for a shy puppy, so he learns that people are wonderful.
Your puppy will also need to learn that being approached by unfamiliar dogs is a fun experience. Interactions should all be with friendly dogs so your puppy learns to trust them, not be frightened by them. Even if you own other dogs your puppy needs to be socialized with unfamiliar dogs, and needs to interact with them in order to learn all the rules of polite doggy behaviour.
Environmental stimulation is equally important to puppies. Your puppy needs to
experience a wide range of environments. These early experiences will help to create a dog that is more flexible about changes when he is grown up. Take your puppy places where he won’t be scared by too much activity or noise; rides in the car, visits to the vet’s office (waiting room, with tons of treats), a friend’s house, walking in the woods, walking on shiny floors. Go a wide variety of places but don’t allow the puppy to become overwhelmed by too much noise or movement.
Jumping up on people is a common behaviour problem with friendly dogs. While we may view it as inappropriate, it is normal dog behaviour.
Why do dogs jump up? Dogs often jump up because they are trying to access their human family member’s face. Young puppies will greet their mother by licking her mouth. (In the hopes of a meal, I think) Close doggie friends will greet with face rubs. Puppies may have been rewarded with attention for it when they were small and adorable.
You need to approach this problem at a couple of levels:
- Be prepared for the behaviour rather than reacting negatively when your dog jumps up. You know this is a problem so put your puppy on a long line when you are expecting company. As your friends approach the door, you will step on your puppy’s leash so he physically cannot jump up on your guests. Ignore all silly behaviour but support him by limiting his range of possibilities. When the puppy is a bit calmer you may pop a food treat in his mouth. He must keep all four feet on the floor or better yet sit. A long line is an excellent management tool for young dogs. It must be used under supervision.
- On your walks, ask your puppy to sit whenever any one approaches him. Have your puppy sit in front of at least 10 new people this week. When he sits, pop a food treat in his mouth. He is learning that the way to greet humans is by sitting front of them. Your puppy cannot jump if he is sitting.
- If your puppy approaches you and attempts to jump up, immediately turn your back on him. No touching, pushing or scolding. When he has 4 on the floor again, you may turn back to him and quietly praise. If your puppy approaches you and chooses to sit, pop a food treat in his mouth.
Your puppy does not know the people rules. It is our job to help him understand human social conventions so dog human misunderstandings are kept to a minimum.