Puppy Socialisation – The Ultimate Guide
Socialising your puppy at a young age is an essential in encouraging their fullest development. A single, brief experience between 6 and 16 weeks can significantly shape your puppy’s future adult behaviour. This is why it is critical to expose your puppy to as many experiences as possible in their early developmental stages. This includes children, loud noises, different adults, baths, cars, roads, and especially, other animals.
If a dog does not receive adequate socialisation and exposure to their environment, they are more likely to form negative behaviours such as aggression, shyness, and separation anxiety. A puppy with bad socialisation will more often than not become a dog with bad behaviour. Luckily, the solution is quite simple, socialise your dog as often as possible.
Every Puppy is Different
Something that many new puppy owners forget is that every puppy is an individual. Each pup will have a different temperament and will like socialising more or less than others. Some will be anxious, and some will be bold, some will be nervous and reserved where others will be really outgoing.Thus, it is essential that new puppy owners are adaptable when socialising their pets. The experiences your puppy has at a young age will shape the way it behaves for the rest of its life, so it is critical that you never push them into uncomfortable situations.
What Should I Expose My Dog To?
- Moving Objects
Moving objects are somewhat unnatural to your puppy. If a young puppy hasn’t been exposed to moving objects, they can trigger a puppy’s flight or fight response. Moving objects include wheelchairs, vacuum cleaners, lawn mowers and edge trimmers, power tools, and bicycles.
Puppies have trouble understanding loud noises. Loud noises can quite significantly scare a puppy. In extreme cases, this can lead to a puppy running away and becoming lost. Loud noises include traffic, sirens, fireworks, music, and thunderstorms.
Puppies react differently to different people. Thusly, they should be introduced to adults of both sexes, children, the elderly, and babies. In addition, it’s a good idea to have trusted friends to introduce themselves to your puppy to expose them to strangers.
- Other Animals
Positive Reinforcement Is Best
Your puppy will look to you like a beacon of support in times of stress. It’s important to be supportive and calm when socialising your puppy. Allow them to investigate in their own time and reward them for taking positive risks.
Dogs learn how to interact through play. Sometimes play between dogs can seem rough and dangerous, but in most cases, this play is harmless and important for your puppy’s development. If your puppy is not in danger or pain, picking them up can cause them to become over reliant on you for emotional support. Likewise, if your dog is being over boisterous, removing them immediately deprives them of the chance to learn restraint and acceptable behaviour.
If your puppy is being over boisterous or shy, introducing calm, structured play may intervene without depriving either puppy of an important socialisation experience. Use a soothing voice to calm a puppy down unless they are putting another puppy at risk.
Have Fun with Your Puppy
The key to positive socialisation is fun and games. Play with your dog using their favourite toy. Run around with them in a safe environment. Take treats on walks to reward positive behaviour like ignoring other dogs.
If your dog is fearful, approach socialisation slowly. Start by feeding treats on the floor while staying far enough away that they will approach. Eventually start moving closer, allow your puppy to come to you and become comfortable with taking food from your hand. If your puppy is boisterous, make them sit quietly before rewarding them with a treat, encourage them to relax and be calm and quiet.
Most Importantly, Get Out There and Start Socialising with Your Puppy!