Socialising your dog means you are teaching them to be part of the dog community. It is not just about them being kind to other puppies but also knowing how to act with different types of peoples, environments, sounds, sights and smells. Most young animals are naturally made to get used to things they see every day, but as they get older they become suspicious of things they have never seen before. Exposing your puppy to lots of different things ensures they are not afraid of everything.
Why is socialising my puppy so important?
Puppies that are well socialised develop into more relaxed, chilled out and enjoyable dogs. Them being relaxed in many situations reduces the reality of a dog becoming fearful, aggressive or acting out because they are not used to being exposed to different stimuli.
Having a socialised dog makes the owner's life easier but it also gives your dog a greater quality of life because they can experience more without being scared.
How can I do it?
Puppies have a ‘critical socialisation period’ between 3-17 weeks. This time is the best time for the puppy to learn and develop and what happens during this time influences and shapes their behaviour well into adulthood. Giving them lots of opportunities for socialisation can help your puppy grow into well-adjusted adults that relate to humans, dogs and other animals well.
- Do it in a safe and positive environment
- Arrange playdates with other puppies at your house or their house
- Make sure the other dogs are friendly, healthy and up to date with their vaccines
- Let them be around the house with you when you are cleaning, the noises will help them be comfortable around different stimuli
- Whenever there is a new noise / sound / sight that scares them do not make a big issue out of it, but reassure them they are safe
- If you have children make sure the children interact with the puppy
- If your postman, delivery driver or builders are coming to the house, don’t forget to include them too!
Make sure your puppy is not overwhelmed, so do not crowd them and make them meet too many people all at once. It is much better for your puppy if they are able to approach the new person, rather than the other way around - this way you can be sure they are confident enough to meet someone and it is on their terms. Picking up or stroking a puppy can be scary for them so best to avoid until you know you have that relationship with your puppy.
- An anxious puppy will look smaller, avoid eye contact, hold their tail lower, put their ears back and keep away. They may lick their lips and yawn. Pay attention to these cues and take action ASAP to ensure you puppy is not worried or scared
- Avoid using food when introducing puppies to strangers as this could teach them that all people carry food and there you will have a very needy and demanding puppy
- Do not pick up or pass the puppy around and if the puppy is pulling away from you, they do not want to be with you as much as it will upset you remember they are just not ready!
Now is not an ideal time to have puppies because of how much isolation there is and it is so important puppies and dogs can interact with other dogs and humans to reduce anxiety. Our advice is to always consider the health, mental health and physical health of the dog you are bringing into your family, but also whether it is the right time not only for you but also them. Can you do everything for them as you usually should and would?
Whilst dogs and puppies are amazing to have in the family and in your home, it is integral to their upbringing that they socialise properly and can do so without any restrictions.