Second Chance: Puppy Socialization

Second Chance: Puppy Socialization

Dear Pet Column,

I recently adopted a new puppy. He is afraid of new things and runs and hides. What do I do to help him? Should I take him out more or is it true puppies can’t go out in public because they are vulnerable to infection?

Sincerely, Puppy Paranoia




Dear Paranoia,

Your inquiry is timely because I myself am a very shy puppy myself here at Second Chance where I find the world an exciting, but sometimes scary place.

Everyday, pups like me see, hear, smell, taste, and touch new things; some of them are frightening at first. Socialization is in fact the best way to help us get over our fears and it is critical that occur as soon after eight weeks of age and as regularly as possible. Done properly, socialization can prevent us from developing fear reactions which, when we are adults, are much are harder to deal with and can turn to aggression.

As you mentioned, there are concerns about puppies picking up potentially fatal diseases from other animals such as parvo, distemper, and hepatitis. so you want to be clear with your veterinarian about when your puppy completed his vaccinations and can be safely introduced to other animals. Until then, you can begin the socialization process in your home with pets you know are vaccinated. Introduce your puppy to different types of people and pets: loud, quiet, young, old, tall, short, active, inactive, etc. Also, have people wear hats, glasses, backpacks, gloves, masks, helmets, big jackets, hoods, and other possibly threatening-looking things.

Make sure all of your puppy’s socialization processes are positive.

If your pup is afraid of certain objects or stimuli, remove the puppy or object and reintroduce whatever it is very slowly, adding positive reinforcement to the situation like treats and praise. For example, if your pup is afraid of someone wearing a hat, have that person give yummy treats. That way the puppy will learn to associate the initially frightening stimuli with something positive.

After your pup’s vet gives the green light for him to go out into the world, start by visiting parks and other places where he can be socialized with other dogs and experience stimuli such as bicycles, skateboards, running children, wheelchairs, etc.

Additionally, to expand upon the socialization process, do some basic training. Teach your pup how to gently accept treats, chew on toys rather than human appendages, not jump on people, how to walk nicely on a leash, and about appropriate/inappropriate barking. Also teach important basic commands such as sit, down, stay, and come.

Remember, as we puppies learn proper socialization, the potential for living happy, adjusted, and comfortable lives increases. Given all the changes and challenges we are confronted with in the modern and human world, we need all the preparation we can get. Like, what about that large round white porcelain water bowl that you people sit on rather than drink from? What is that about?



In closing, if you want a playmate for your pup, I am a 14-week Aussie Terrier (Ausier) named Kokanee. I am adorable, very good-natured, mellow, and love cuddles.

Or your new pup might enjoy a dog-friendly cat like Dash.

Dash is two years old and would be a good teacher for your pup. He is a chill dude who does well with other cats too. And he loves the outside patio in the Cat Castle…

Editor’s note: It’s no secret. The Telluride region is dog heaven. Well, pet heaven. Unless you are one of our furry friends who gets caught in the maw of neglect and abuse. Then heaven is on hold until Second Chance Humane Society comes to the rescue. Second Chance is the region’s nonprofit dedicated to saving animals’ lives and promoting responsible pet parenting and human-animal bond. In her weekly blog, executive director Kelly Goodin profiles at least one, generally two of the many animals now living at the no-kill shelter, Angel Ridge Shelter, a dog and a cat, hoping to find them loving permanent homes. The column is sponsored by Ted Hoff of Cottonwood Ranch & Kennel, who from time to time exercises his skills as a dog whisperer, partnering with Kelly and her staff to help train a particularly challenging animal.

Ted Hoff & Mae

Ted Hoff &  Magnificent Mae

By the by, there is no better place to park your pup or get your pup (or adult dog) trained than Cottonwood whenever you head out of town (for locals) or are heading to town and staying somewhere that does not allow pets. Consider joining Ted’s Very Important Dog (VID) Club for added benies. (Details on Ted’s website.)

Second Chance Humane Society Animal Resource Center and Thrift Shop are both located in Ridgway, but service San Miguel, Ouray & Montrose Counties. Call the SCHS Helpline at 626-2273 to report a lost pet, learn about adopting a homeless pet, or about the SCHS Spay/Neuter, Volunteer, Feral Cat, or other Programs. View the shelter pets and services online:

Vetting the Vet: Dr. Michelle Dally. DVM, J.D. is Medical Director of Second Chance Humane Society. She also has a private practice, Dally Veterinary Medicine, 333 S. Elizabeth Street, Ridgway, Colorado. But Dr. Michelle makes house calls. (Yes, in Telluride.) Call 970-318-0897. For more on Dr. Dally, go here.

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