We at Doggle believe that socialisation is one of the most important things you can do for your dog! It is the process of acquainting your dog with the experiences he's likely to encounter while he lives with you. Proper socialisation is crucial to your dog's future emotional wellbeing. By exposing him now to the people, dogs, places and situations he'll probably encounter during his lifetime, you'll teach him to deal with new experiences calmly and view the world as a good place to be.
The best age to socialise your puppy is between 3 - 12 weeks as they are more accepting of new experiences. As puppies get older, it's more difficult to socialise them as they become cautious of things they have not encountered before.
It's up to you to decide on the amount of socialisation that's appropriate. Just keep in mind, in order for your new puppy to become a well-adjusted dog, the more experiences that your pup encounters, the more confidence he will have as an adult - which means not being scared and being able to adjust to new experiences.
Common sense will guide you in the right direction for socialisation. For example if you live in the city, you may want to get your puppy adjusted to the sounds of traffic, horns, groups of people and crowded lifts. It will be impossible to introduce your puppy to everything he is likely to encounter throughout his life but the more you introduce him to at an early age the better he will adjust to new things over time.
Make sure your puppy is comfortable in any situation you put him in. If you're introducing him to other dogs at the park make sure they are as nice as he is.
Let your puppy set the pace during doggie meet-and-greets, these activities can increase with time as his confidence begins to grow.
Never try to socialise a tired and cranky puppy, it is unlikely that he will be in the mood to put his best paw forward, and compulsive socialisation won't achieve anything.
Try to be relaxed and try to enjoy these occasions with your dog. It should be a fun experience not inhibited by nervous energy. If you're finding it difficult to socialise your puppy on your own, it's always beneficial to take your puppy to a puppy training school, as these always provide a structured environment for your dog to mix with other dogs.
Always remember your dog will be a safer, more relaxed and enjoyable pet - not only for you, but for any other dogs or humans it meets if he or she is properly socialised.