Risa, our liver puppy, formally known as Calypso's Barista, is now 12 weeks old. She is such a good puppy, but a bundle of energy and enthusiasm. Meg, from our M Litter, who is now 13 weeks old, came over today for a play date with Risa. They had a TON of fun playing together. They sounded quite wild and crazy as they raced around barking, growling, wrestling, and leaping at each other. Meg's mom works as a veterinary technician, so she had the patience to stay here for several hours and watch puppies play with me, knowing, as I know, that off lead play time with other dogs is an essential part of socializing a baby puppy. Dogs learn so much from each other. They learn appropriate play styles, greetings, when to be submissive, etc. They learn how to interact appropriately with dogs only by playing with other dogs. Puppies also learn proper bite inhibition by playing with other puppies their age.
Many pet owners neglect this part of socializing their new puppies. This can lead to an adult dog who is fearful of other dogs or who gives the wrong cues while playing with other dogs which can lead to inappropriate behavior, either from your own dog or from the other dogs interacting with your dog. Dogs are not miniature humans and one of the best ways to allow them to develop proper canine language is to allow puppies plenty of off lead play time with other dogs and puppies while they are growing up.
If you have a puppy growing up at home, schedule a play date with another puppy your puppy's age. If you do not know another puppy, consider taking a puppy class where off lead play time is part of the curriculum. Once your puppy has had all of his or her vaccinations, you can look for a doggy daycare that will allow your puppy to visit for a few hours or a dog park with a "small dog" section where your puppy can make friends with dogs his or her size.
Properly socializing your puppy will take work on your part!! Remember, though, that in order to end up with a well socialized, well behaved adult dog, you must first put the appropriate amount of effort in to raising your puppy correctly.
One added benefit to puppy play sessions... a very tired and happy puppy! Risa is currently quietly sleeping in her crate. Too tired to even chew on the bone I gave her!