Socializing a puppy early in her life creates the foundation for good behavior. Puppies should be introduced to a variety of people as well as different animals and other dogs.
Puppy Socialization Tips
It's not enough just to introduce your puppy to new people - the puppy has to actually enjoy it. If the puppy is mistreated or scared for some reason, it won't want to meet any more new people and your efforts to socialize it will be for nothing. So be very careful to cut short any interactions where your puppy doesn't seem to be having a good time. If the puppy bows her head and tucks her tail between her legs it means the situation is making her anxious.
If a puppy is naturally shy or reluctant to meet new people, avoid direct eye contact and don't be too over-the-top. Just sit side on to the pup and don't look at it. Offer some toys and treats and it should eventually come up to you on its own.
Socializing a Puppy with People
Puppies need plenty of contact with humans early in their lives if they are going to live successfully with humans. Not only do they need to come into regular contact with people, but they need to meet a variety of different types of people. Large people, elderly people, and especially children.
Because children are small and tend to make sudden movements, they are the closest thing in the puppy's new home to a brother or sister - and puppies play rough when it comes to brothers and sisters. So to avoid accidents involving nipping and biting, introduce your puppy to children as soon as possible.
Make sure the children know the rules for handling the puppy. Give the kids toys and treats to offer the puppy as an alternative to rough play. Also if the dog gets a treat the first few times it meets a child, this will create a good association to children in the puppy's mind.
Try to introduce the puppy to a variety of children of different ages.
Socializing with Dogs
Learning to behave around other dogs, and to not be afraid of other dogs, is important for a puppy. You should introduce your pup to other dogs, but make sure the puppy spends more time with humans than dogs. This will help it to learn to live by human rules and training, rather than natural doggy instincts.
Be selective about the dogs you introduce your puppy to. You're better off socializing a puppy with friends' dogs that you already know rather than random dogs at the park. Know the temperament of older dogs before you introduce them to your puppy. One bad experience during the puppy stage can create lifelong fear of other dogs. Protect your puppy when she is obviously uncomfortable in the presence of another dog - this will strengthen the bond between you and your puppy.
But also remember that a lot of Jack Russells suffer from "small dog syndrome" - they may actually want to try to take on the Great Dane walking in the park, so be aware and keep your dog on leash at all times until you have it very well trained.
Socializing with Other Animals
When introducing your puppy to a large animal such as a horse, be very careful and hold onto your puppy or be ready to grab it at any moment. One misplaced horse hoof can be the end of your puppy.
For other pets that would be your dog's natural prey, like hamsters, mice, rats and so on, it will be your puppy who you need to keep a close eye on. Often animal behavior can change in a second without any apparent reason, so be careful and keep them under close supervision. Let them sniff each other and gauge the reaction.
These animals can learn to get along if they are introduced early enough. The same applies to cats. The dog and cat will probably still chase each other around, but they won't be a serious threat to each other.
Taking Your Puppy Into The Big Wide World
Socializing a puppy at home is one thing, but socializing him to get ready for the outside world will be a bit different. As mentioned above, be prepared to protect him from other dogs when you're out walking if he's visibly uncomfortable.
Bring treats along when you're taking your puppy to a new environment, like the beach or park, for the first time. Don't try to force the puppy through a negative experience.
There are environmental-noise CDs available that you can play in your home to help condition your puppy to new sounds, such as traffic noises, fireworks, and people yelling. You can also simply bang a pot or drop something and watch the puppy's reaction. Start with relatively quiet noises, and build up to louder ones. Your dog's response to a loud noise should be alertness, but not fear or anxiety.
More Training Info
For more help with socializing a puppy and getting your new Jack Russell pup off to the best possible start in life, please take the time to read my free special report, specifically about Jack Russells: The Top Ten Jack Russell Training Mistakes.