Socialization 101 for Puppies & Kittens

Recently IVC has been receiving several puppies and kittens as new patients. Adding a furry friend to your family is a wonderful blessing but must be done correctly. Just like a newborn baby must learn how to live and behave in the world and its societies, so must newborn pets. Although dogs and cats are extremely different creatures, both need to be properly socialized at a young age to ensure the best behavior possible down the road.


According to the American Kennel Club, or AKC, puppies go through a socialization period from 7 weeks to 4 months of age that directly shapes their future personalities and reactions to various environmental stimuli. This fact highlights exactly why it is so crucial to expose your puppy to an array of people, places, and situations. Doing so ensures that they become positively acclimated to the world around them.

It’s important to remember that the socialization process should always be positive and calm. When you’re introducing your puppy to a new person, place or experience, make sure to have plenty of treats on hand, that way it associates the encounter with something good, and make sure to keep your stress level to a minimum. Your dog will sense your nervousness and also become nervous.

Getting family and friends involved is an excellent way to increase your puppy’s socialization as well. By doing so, your pup will learn to listen to more people than just you, and will realize that there are many friendly people to sniff and play with. Take baby steps and slowly move your puppy out of his or her comfort zone, and soon enough you’ll have a well-socialized and well-mannered companion.


Comfort is the name of the game when it comes to socializing kittens. It’s best to set up a crate for your kitten to stay in, and one that’s higher up; he or she will feel safer when able to see all of the surrounding area. Don’t try to expose your kitten to too much too soon. A two-day time period is adequate for helping it feel well adjusted.

Take things slow and keep things quiet, fast movements and loud noises will only frighten your kitten and prevent progress.As with puppies, kitten socialization should be gradual and always positively reinforced with treats and love. Patience is key. If your kitten is spitting, hissing or hiding, those are signs of fear, not aggression. Allow your kitten to recuperate before trying additional socialization tactics.

Kittens love to play, and play helps them to build trust with humans. A few hours of play a day should give your kitten enough time to build this trust. After this trust is built, practice holding your kitten as much as possible so that it understands you are always a friendly face. As time goes on and these practices are enforced, kittens should grow comfortable enough to sleep in your lap. When this moment comes, they may leave the crate and move onto a kitten-proof room.

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