Tips to socialize your pet

Throughout the pandemic, many families decided to bring home a new furbaby (yay!).

While adding a new pet to the household can be very exciting, it can also stimulate anxiety for both humans and pets.

Here are a few tips to begin their socializing experience to help acclimate a new pet to your household (or help your furbaby make new friends).

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  • Introduce your new puppy to your family, surroundings (inside and outside your home), different sights and sounds both gradually and safely.
  • Socialize with other pets including large and small dogs, other puppies and kittens, adult cats, and different people.
  • Schedule regular play dates but remember to wait until your puppy has at least the 12-week round of puppy vaccinations before introducing them to unknown and possibly unvaccinated dogs.
  • Puppies should have at least four vaccination visits with various vaccines given to protect them between the age of 6 weeks and 16 weeks followed by annual boosters.
  • When introducing your new puppy to another dog or cat, remember to be patient and methodical – avoid sudden movements and loud noises, stay calm, and first introduce them through a wire crate or a door between them so they can get used to smells, sights, and sounds before being launched into a defensive or aggressive posture upon introduction.
  • Be consistent with walks, feeding time, nap time, potty breaks, etc.
  • Use high-quality treats as rewards for positive behavior. Positive reinforcement with treats, praise, and encouragement is very important to their social skill development.
Adult dogs:

Most of the same tips and techniques listed here can be applied to your adopted or fostered adult dogs with a few exceptions.

  • Keep your dog on a leash when you go out of their home environment-you can’t always control a dog that you don’t know or one who doesn’t know you, without a leash.
  • Make sure the dog has all current appropriate vaccinations and avoid unvaccinated dogs while on walks or at the park, etc.
  • Supply your new dog with his own water and food bowl.
  • Provide a safe place they can retreat to such as a crate or room with their personal bed.
  • Kittens and newly adopted cats learn best in a calm, controlled environment. Allow plenty of space for the kitten to have alone time and their own litter box, water, and a food source.
  • Rub their head and shoulders along the back. Avoid the underbelly because unlike dogs, cats and kittens don’t enjoy belly rubs.
  • Introduce your new family member to other cats in the household through a door so they can get used to smells and sounds while not immediately jumping into an attack or defense mode.
  • The use of calming pheromones sprays and home diffusers along with fear-free programs are encouraged to ease the new home transition.

Remember to stay positive and give your new family member time to get acquainted and realize this is their loving, new home and family for life!

If you have questions about socialization, use Petzey to talk or video chat with a licensed vet professional to discuss best practices specific to your pet’s needs. 

This information is offered for informational and educational purposes only, and is not intended to replace traditional veterinary medical advice or create a veterinarian-client-patient relationship. You should not change your pet’s care or treatment on the basis of this information. If you think your pet requires emergency assistance, you should take your pet to the nearest emergency veterinary hospital.



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