The first 20 weeks of a puppy’s life is a crucial time for socialisation, as during this time they are more accepting of new experiences due to their learning stage.
But what does socialisation actually mean?
Most new owners assume that socialisation means the interaction with other dogs, yes this is correct, but this is only one aspect of socialisation. Socialisation is getting to know new environments and experiences that will take them into adult life. Puppies are in a big new world with lots to experience and see from People, Dogs, other animals, Noises, different environments and locations and also different types of handling are just a few categories of Puppy Socialisation.
- Environments – this can include; Parks, Beaches, Vets, Shops, restaurants and Cafes, Bridges, Rivers, Puddles, Rain, Different textures floorings inc. Wood, Tile, Carpet, Gravel, Tarmac, Mud and Grass
- Animals – of course a big part is dog interaction inc. older dogs, younger dogs and dogs of different breeds, shapes and sizes, but also other types of animals like Ducks, Birds, Cats, Chickens, Sheep and Cows. All puppies need to learn early on what to expect and what to leave alone
- People – saying hi to all different types of people inc children of all ages, adults young and old in different types of clothing. You will be surprised how many dogs are weary of people in hats and glasses. Don’t forget different voices!
- Noises – there are so many noises out there for a puppy to experience from home like hoovers, slamming doors and objects falling and outdoors noises like trucks, cars, horns, trains and farm vehicles. Even a baby crying can be scary to a dog that has never heard one before
- Handling – Nose to tail desensitisation is a big part of a dogs life. This will include not just general touching on all parts of the body which will come in handy at vet visits including mouth checks, but also things like grooming brushing, nail clipping, ear cleaning, baths, wearing harnesses, collars & coats, lifting & carrying, and being tethered and restrained.
How do I socialise my dog correctly?
- Turn every experience into a positive and rewarding experience
- Exposure alone is not socialisation, interaction is key to socialisation
- Never force your puppy into an interaction as this could stick with them as a negative experience
- Your puppy is the only one who will determine if the interaction was positive, so look out for signs of distress or anxiousness, remove the puppy and try again in a different way
This time in a young dog’s life is time for us as owners ad pet parents to be proactive and guide our puppy for the best future they can have to be well adjusted adult dogs.
How did you find experiences and interactions helped with your puppy in later life?
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