First, let’s clarify what this term means. Just like children, frenchie puppies are born without social skills and they need to be trained and taught how to communicate with humans, dogs and other animals. It is simply a learning process that is necessary in order for French Bulldog puppy to feel safe and confident in his environment and to function within the group. It doesn’t only refer to puppy’s relationship with other animals and people, but also to all kind of situations, sights and sounds the puppy will be exposed to during its life, such as traffic, traveling, vacuum cleaners…
The first few months of puppy’s life are the most critical period in dog’s development. That is why it is very important that this whole learning processes is done within first 12 weeks of puppy’s life. During that period the puppy is able to accept new experiences and get used to everyday things. Latter the puppy becomes more cautious and suspicious of thing he has not encountered yet and it is a lot more difficult or even impossible to adjust to new situations. What you teach the little guy at this age will become a permanent character of your dog.
Properly socialized French Bulldog is safer, more relaxed and a good companion. That means he will not be aggressive ore frightened of everyday situations. Poorly socialized dogs are more likely to manifest aggression or fear to new things and faces. They are harder to train, unreliable, many of them become fear-biters, they are prone to fighting other dogs and animals and such dogs are generally more unpleasant to be around. One more time, it is important that you socialize your dog when he is young!
Experts say that dog should learn most important social skills until he is three months old. They can only be refined after that, but not much. Teaching an older dog to adjust takes a lot more time, energy and patience and many owners are not able or willing to deal with that.
Here are some do’s and don’ts when it comes to dog socialization…
You should make sure that all the situations and events you will expose your dog to are pleasant and non-threatening. If the dog experiences pain or fear the first time he encounters a new situation, he will remember that and act defensive. If that bad experience repeats a few times, it will probably create a lifetime phobia for him. So, it is better to go very slow and not rush with meeting new thing and people. After all, adjusting and creating a habit takes time.
Here is what you should do:
Invite friends and family to meet the puppy. That should include men, women, children, older people, different ethnicities…
Invite other people with healthy and friendly dogs and cats for a play-date. Go to people who own a pet, but make sure it is a non-aggressive pet, especially if it is a cat. It has to be a dog-friendly cat.
Take your frenchie puppy to parks, playgrounds and shopping centers, or any place where there is a lot of people and activity.
Take him for a short ride in the car and let him watch the world go by through the window.
Introduce him to bags, boxes, house furniture, vacuum cleaners and other electric devices that create intensive noise or movement. Encourage him to explore his environment.
Get him used to seeing unusual or unfamiliar things. For example, move parts of the furniture and turn them upside down.
Introduce him to different sounds. Loud and unpleasant sounds should slowly be brought closer from a distance.
Get your puppy used to being bathed, brushed, nail clipped, teeth and ears cleaned, inspected and all the things that include grooming and examination.
Introduce him to stairs, his leash and all the things or living beings that he will be exposed to on a daily basis.
Don’t put your French Bulldog pup on the ground with other animals, especially not before he is done with his shots and vaccinations, because that is how he can pick up diseases. Don’t let him play with strange dogs or animals that look sick.
Do not award manifestations of fear. Even when you are trying to calm him down, you should not reward that sort of behavior and it is perfectly normal for the dog to appear mildly suspicious or reserved when encountering something new or unusual.
Don’t expose him to any kind of experience that is harmful, painful or extremely frightening, because he can develop lifetime phobias.
Do not force or rush your frenchie puppy into new things and let him take his time to learn something. That also includes taking smaller steps and doing one thing at the time. Puppies tend to tire easily and need more sleep, so it is more effective to give them short and frequent experiences, rather than doing it periodically and prolonged.