One of the most important things you can do to help a new puppy to grow up to be a friendly and confident dog is to socialise them as early as possible.
What is Socialisation?
Socialization is the developmental process whereby puppies and adolescent dogs familiarize themselves with their constantly changing surroundings. It is how they work out what is safe and good as opposed to what is dangerous and not-so-good.
Anything you want your puppy to cheerfully accept as an adult—people of all kinds, animals, things, and situations—you must introduce her to often and in a positive manner in the first 6 months of her life. Then you have to make sure she stays comfortable with all these new things.
Puppies have a critical period for Socialisation
Puppies have a critical period – from 3 weeks to around 12/14 weeks where socialisation is especially important. If your puppy is not exposed to a variety of different people, dogs, experiences, environments etc, when they are young, he might not be friendly or confident as an adult. Fear and aggression could result if a puppy is not socialised properly or at all. So when your puppy is a puppy, this is the time to create these positive experiences with the world around them. We want to make the big wide world a fun and positive place for your pup to be.
How to socialize your puppy
- Think about the things your puppy will see every week as an adult: Visit those places, see those people, or experience those things now.
- Help your puppy form positive associations: Cheer and praise her when she encounters something new. Offer a treat whenever possible.
Step 1.Watch their body language. If your puppy seems even a bit nervous, move a little distance away, give her treats, and then walk away—anything she is unsure about should be encountered in short bursts.
Step 2. As soon as your puppy seems more relaxed, try again. As she sees or hears the thing that scared her before, start your cheerful praise and break out the treats.
Step 3. If your puppy did not seem nervous with the new thing or acts curious about it after she has been treated, go back and let her investigate a little more. Again, praise and treat.
Training Tip: When you move away from any new thing, go quiet and stop the treats. We want your puppy to learn that the presence of the thing is what makes you give her the food. That way, she begins to associate the food with the new experience and realizes that, “Hey, that new thing isn’t so bad after all.”