Below are a few helpful do’s and don’t to help you:
Make each of the socialization events as ‘pleasant and non-threatening’ for the Shih tzu as possible. If a Shih tzu puppy’s first experience with any new experience is an unpleasant one, it will be very difficult to undo that in it’s mind. In some cases, an early trauma can morph into a phobia that can last for a lifetime. It is better to take things slow and avoid having the puppy become frightened or injured.
Try inviting your friends over to meet the new puppy. It is important to include as many different people as possible in the Shih tzu circle of acquaintances, including men, women, children, adults, as well as people of many diverse ethnic backgrounds and ages.
Also invite friendly and healthy dogs and puppies over to meet your puppy. It is important for the Shih tzu to meet a wide variety of other animals, including cats, hamsters, rabbits and other animals he is likely to meet. It is of course important to make sure that all animals the shih tzu comes into contact with have received ‘all necessary vaccinations’.
Take the Shih tzu puppy to many different places, including shopping centers, pet stores, parks, school playgrounds and on walks around the neighborhood. Try to expose your Shih tzu to places where there will be crowds of people and lots of diverse activity going on.
Take the Shih tzu for frequent short rides in the car. Introduce your Shih tzu to a variety of items that may be unfamiliar. The Shih tzu should be exposed to common items like bags, boxes, vacuum cleaners, umbrellas, hats, etc. that may be frightening to him. Allow and encourage the Shih tzu to explore these items and see that he has nothing to fear from them.
Get the Shih tzu puppy used to a variety of objects by rearranging familiar ones. Simply placing a chair upside down, or placing a table on its side, creates an object that your Shih tzu puppy will perceive as totally new. You will be surprised at how they react to something placed in a different position thinking it is totally new!
Get the Shih tzu used to common procedures like being brushed, bathed, having the nails clipped, teeth cleaned, ears cleaned, etc. Your groomer and your veterinarian with ‘thank you’ for this.
Introduce the Shih tzu to common things around the house, such as stairs. Also introduce the him to the collar and leash, so he will be comfortable with these items.
There are of course some things to avoid when socializing a Shih tzu puppy. These socialization don’ts include:
Do not place the Shih tzu on the ground when strange animals are present. An attack, or even a surprise inspection, by an unknown animal could traumatize the Shih tzu and hurt his socialization.
Do not inadvertently reward fear based behavior. When the Shih tzu shows fear, it is normal to try to sooth it, but this could reinforce the fear based behavior and make it worse. Since biting is often a fear based behavior, reinforcing fear can create problems with biting.
Do not force or rush the socialization process. It is important to allow the Shih tzu to socialize at his own pace.
Do not try to do too much too soon. Young Shih tzu puppies have short attention spans, and continuing lessons after that attention span has passed will be a waste of your time and your puppy’s.
Do not wait too long to begin. There is a short window in which to begin the socialization process. A young Shih tzu puppy is a blank slate, and it is important to fill that slate with positive socialization skills as early as possible.
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