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The importance of Socialisation for your new Puppy

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. Exposing a puppy to new experiences and environments inside and outside the home is called socialisation.

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. 

The importance of Socialisation for your new Puppy

How to socialise your puppy

The last thing we want to do when exposing a puppy to new stimuli is to take it too far and too soon and scare the puppy. Take it slowly, use plenty of positive reinforcement along the way. And listen to your pup when he has had enough. Ultimately we are conditioning them to enjoy being around new stimuli, like strangers or new sounds or other dogs, etc. So it is up to us to make sure they enjoy this experience and do not take it too far as to traumatize them. Take him to a safe place that will excite him, not overwhelm him. Do not put your puppy in a situation that might be too frightening or over simulating for them. Slowly work up to these things once they get more and more comfortable with their surroundings.

 

How do I make sure my puppy is ok when being socialised to new things?

Watch their body language. We want the puppy to be as relaxed as possible. Of course when being exposed to new stimuli the puppy might be curious, excited, alert. But we want to make sure that this doesn’t tip over the other side to feeling uncomfortable, nervous or stressed out. So we would watch body language. Specific signs that might indicate the dog is stressed are: the lip lick, yawning, scratching, wide moon eye, turning head away, scratching, shaking off, tail between legs, ears pinned back and mouth closed and tense.

 

What would you do if the puppy showed signs of stress?

I would stop what we were doing. Leave where we are. Just stop the dogs exposure to whatever it is that is making him feel stressed. And try again to a lesser extent on another day using lots of positive reinforcement. We want to build up to the more stimulating, overwhelming events, situations, etc, when the puppy is ready for it.

The importance of Socialisation for your new Puppy
You want to make sure your puppy gets to experience everything in a positive and fun way. Our breeders actually gave us a checklist as a guide for things we should try and socialise Cooper with in those first few months– great idea! The list included things like; different sounds- bikes, garbage trucks, trams, vacuum cleaner, lawn mowers, storms, different feels – grass, concrete, pebbles, different people – children, elderly, babies, and the list goes on. The important part is to watch your dog. If they seem a little nervous, take things slowly and reward him when he is calm and relaxed in new environments.

But my puppy isn’t fully Vaccinated

I hear this all the time. The main concern people have regarding early socialisation is that the pup is not fully vaccinated until about 12 weeks, making it hard to socialise with all of these things. I personally think that yes you do need to be extra careful as pups are prone to disease and viruses – however, as socialisation is SO important we took Cooper to visit friends and family’s dogs that we knew were fully vaccinated. We also walked him very early in the morning when no one was around but didn’t let him sniff the grass or trees and we took him to puppy school.
Although having a lot of knowledge on puppy training we were always going to take Coop to puppy school – it’s the cutest thing! It is also such a great way to socialise your pup with other puppies in a safe space and you and your pup can learn so much!! I 100% recommend taking your pup to positive reward-based puppy classes. We found our puppy school through our local vet and they were great. It also made a positive association for Cooper with our vet. 
The importance of Socialisation for your new Puppy
Plus, Cooper passed puppy classes with flying colours and made some great friends!
The importance of Socialisation for your new Puppy
Mel xox

 


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