Socialization tips for your puppy

ANDREA J. WRIGHT/SEATTLE TIMES/MCTIt's important to socalize puppies early.
ANDREA J. WRIGHT/SEATTLE TIMES/MCTIt's important to socalize puppies early. KRT

As a responsible dog owner, it's very important to make sure that your dog is comfortable and well behaved around others.

Socializing your puppy is extremely important and should start early on, as it sets the stage for your dog to feel happy and confident throughout his life.

It is key to start exposing your puppy to new people, places and situations as soon as you can.

Early socialization can begin as soon as you bring your puppy home.

The American Kennel Club offers dog lovers the following tips to help socialize their puppies.

Start the socialization process slowly. Expose your puppy to different people, places and things each day. Don't take your dog straight to the dog park as his first experience with other animals. It can be overwhelming, especially if your dog is nervous around other dogs.

The nose knows. When you first bring your puppy home, he will naturally start to sniff people and things around him to get to know them. Let him sniff around to get familiar with his new surroundings. Introduce him to different smells.

Make a play date. Choose your dog's first playmates by planning to meet someone with one dog at a specific time. Make sure that dog is well-mannered, polite and calm. That will show your dog what an acceptable greeting looks like. These meetings should take place after you've exercised your dog a bit to drain some of his energy so he's calm and not overly excited when meeting a new friend.

Meet all types of dogs. Make sure to expose your dog to a variety of other dogs -- big, small, active, loud, quiet, etc. If your dog has only ever met dogs of the same type, imagine his surprise the first time he meets a different breed.

Supervise. Always monitor interactions and play time between your dog and others. You want to make sure that your dog and others are behaving and no situations arise.