Socialisation is one of the most, if not the most important thing you can do as a puppy owner!
In the early stages of life, the experiences your puppy goes through are going to stick with them for the rest of their lives. Because of this, it is important they build plenty of positive associations with the world and what it has in store for them.
When we talk about socialisation, we mean to everything! Interactions with people, places, noises and other dogs are all crucial if we are to set them up for success.
Take care when setting up these interactions, little and often is your best bet, we want each experience they must be as positive as possible. This means taking them to see family and friends, varying their walks and attending puppy play and training sessions.
Is your pup looking a little hesitant in these new situations?
Take things steady and use treats to give them a little confidence boost. The more they experience the better they will get, it is important they learn that it isn’t all that bad.
Is your pup a little over the top in new situations?
Make things simple and reward them for staying calm, polite greetings and appropriate play. The more practice they get, the more well-mannered they will become.
Lack of appropriate socialisation can lead to a number of problems in later life. Anxiety, aggression or over excitement are common issues related to insufficient experiences during their puppyhood, meaning it is crucial for any new puppy to get out in the world to socialise.
Why should we attend puppy play and puppy classes over meeting dogs on a walk?
Meeting dogs on walks is fine but you just don’t know what you are going to get. We want our greetings to be in a nice controlled environment with dogs of a similar socialisation level or higher. Unfortunately, not all dogs you meet on walks are well socialised so may not want to greet your puppy or may indirectly teach bad habits.
Can we over socialise a puppy?
No, the more you can do the better! We always say you should aim for your puppy to meet 100 – 150 other dogs before they reach 6months of age. This way they will have experienced all different sizes, shapes, breeds and most importantly play styles.
What is the best age to start socialisation?
8 weeks old and up! The earlier you can start the better. If your puppy has only had their 1st vaccination you can still carry them to new places such as vets and pet shops to get them started. Certain puppy play groups will also allow you to bring puppies with only their first vaccination if the room they are in is properly treated.
Older puppies can still benefit from socialisation but if you think they are behaving inappropriately or have had a negative experience when socialising previously it is always best to consult a canine behaviourist first for advice.
George Rooke - Head Behaviour Counsellor