Socialising Your Puppy
Socialisation is the process of becoming used to or acquiring the ability to cope with experiences. The goal with a new puppy is for them to gain independence, build coping ability and develop socially with humans, other dogs and animals in everyday life.
The canine socialisation period of a puppy is between 23 to 49 days old, approximately 3 to 7 weeks. The human socialisation period of a puppy is between 50 to 84 days or up to 12 weeks, approximately 7 to 12 weeks. In short between the ages of 3 and 12 weeks puppies go through a critical socialisation period and this is the most important stage of a dog’s life. After 14 weeks a natural fear response will emerge and the puppy will be slower to socialise to new experiences. Recent studies have linked aggression in adult dogs with lack of socialisation.
Pre vaccination socialisation exercises include the following:
- Carrying your puppy to allow them to experience the sounds of various environments while keeping them safe and off the ground where they could pick up disease.
- Introducing your puppy to the car both stationary and moving.
- Introducing your puppy to visitors including children. Leave a pot of treats by your front door and request that visitors drop food treats to the ground on arrival and to gently greet your puppy in a positive way.
- Allowing your puppy to experience household noises such as the hoover, alarms and children playing, including all of their noisy toys. Keep your puppy inside to experience these things using a crate for extra management where required.
- Attending a veterinary puppy party designed for pre vaccinated puppies.
- Booking a private one to one training session with a trainer who employs positive reinforcement.
- Fully vaccinated puppies should be booked into a Puppy Socialisation course as soon as possible. This will ensure that each week they meet a variety of other puppies, people and children.
- Puppy socialisation course trainers should employ positive reinforcement based training methods and the class should consist of puppies that are under 16 weeks old to ensure the safety of your puppy.
- All interactions and experiences must be positive. Puppies will naturally experience small stressors and this will help to build their coping ability.
- Play with your puppy and teach them bite inhibition. This will ensure your puppy grows to have a soft mouth. Teaching bite inhibition is a safety exercise and all puppy owners must teach this skill.
Handling Your Puppy
It is vital that you handle your puppy daily and reward after each interaction. Touch your puppy’s paws, nails, ears, gums, teeth to ensure that vet and groomer visits will not be stressful.
Mistakes and Myths
You do not need to dominate your puppy or use force to successfully train and socialise your puppy. Never hold down your puppy or deliver interactive punishment such as smacking the nose as this can create hand shyness and further behavioural difficulties may arise. Seek professional advice if you are concerned at any behaviours being displayed. Get socialisation right and you can set your puppy up for life.