The first step to socializing your puppy is to get started right away. You do want to introduce them to new animals and people gradually, but if you’re not introducing them to new friends within the first few weeks, it only gets more and more difficult to get them started.
For most puppies, the window of opportunity shuts at around 12-16 weeks, so four to five months in, if you haven’t begun socializing your pooch, they may become antisocial and reclusive, not to mention aggressive, inflexible and stubborn.
The most important thing is to accustom your pet to a social lifestyle. When at the vet, let them visit with other animals. Introduce them gradually to family and friends. Take them out in public and let them meet with people from all sorts of backgrounds. As funny as it sounds, some dogs grow up to be distrusting of older people simply because they’ve never met an elderly person. They may be distrusting of children just because all the people in their lives are twice that tall and half that energetic. Without neglecting safety, ensure that your puppy is exposed to a wide range of people and animals.
If you have a shy pup, that’s okay, animals are like people, some are extroverts, some are introverts. Just make sure that you encourage them to do as much socializing as they’re comfortable with. Be there for them, pet them and talk to them as they meet new friends, make it easier for them to get to know other people, dogs, cats and other animals, and they’ll regard socializing as something fun, rather than something stressful.