Socialisation is an essential process by which your pup gets
used to as many different places, people, dogs, sights and sounds as possible. But how do you do it effectively?! New puppy parents often get overwhelmed by conflicting advice about socialisation and all too often the golden window of opportunity from 8-16 weeks of age passes by. Follow the tips below to give your pup the best start to life.
for a copy of our Socialisation Checklist)
1. Make associations positive, not just neutral
. Socialisation is not just about exposing your pup to lots of different environments. You need to create positive associations with all the new things your pup comes into contact with. The easiest way to do this is to pair a small food treat with each new person, place or object, and always stay aware of how your pup is feeling - don' t force them into situations where they may feel nervous.
2. Puppies that are not fully vaccinated must still be socialised
. Don't make the common mistake of hiding your pup away from the world until they are fully vaccinated. Safe puppy socialisation can still take place by enrolling in a puppy class, taking your pup for car rides, carrying them while out in public and taking them to friend’s houses with safe, vaccinated adult dogs.
3. Socialise your pup to many different types of people.
Your pup needs to meet a wide range of people in the first 2-4 months. This includes men, people with hats and facial hair, people in wheelchairs, people of various ethnicity's, teenagers, children, toddlers...the list goes on! Dogs don't generalise very well so make a point of seeking out different types of people for your pup to meet. A great way to do this is to sit with your pup outside a busy supermarket to let him watch all the people - just don't forget the liver treats!
4. Socialise your pup to many different types of dogs.
Let's say your pup lives in a household with one resident adult dog. Does this mean your pup is adequately socialised to dogs? NO! Ideally pups should meet one new dog a day. Aim to accomplish this by enrolling in puppy class, setting up play dates and getting your pup out and about to meet a wide range of dogs.
5. Supervise puppy play sessions.
While under socialisation can create issues in later life, so too can over socialisation. Puppies that are allowed to play without supervision can quickly turn into social loons that won't be welcome at any dog park! They will be less able to self regulate their play as adult dogs, may develop bully like behaviour and won't learn to listen to humans when other dogs are around. Prevent this by regularly (every 1-2 minutes) interrupting play sessions to settle your pup down. Ask him for a sit or 'watch me' and then allow him to play again.
If you have a new puppy contact us for a free copy of our Puppy Parenting Guide