Puppy Socialisation is the term used to describe the experiences that a puppy should ideally have when very young in order to learn key life skills, helping to ensure that it grows to be a happy and confident dog. This involves having positive social interactions with children, vets, adult dogs and other animals as well as exposure to other situations like travelling in the car and noises such as thunderstorms.
It is important that this learning takes place early on in the puppy’s life during what is commonly referred to as the Socialisation Period. This is when puppies are young enough to happily accept new things. If they have a positive experience with something as a puppy, they are far less likely to develop issues or phobias later on.
It is generally agreed that the Socialisation Period lasts from birth up until around 12-16 weeks, although you should continue exposing your dog to positive new experiences throughout their life.
Well socialised puppies are better able to cope with new situations, are generally happier in the company of unfamiliar people and other animals, are more content when travelling with and overall make easier pets. Puppies who miss out on experiences early on in their lives can become fearful, shy and sometimes aggressive.
As the Socialisation Period starts before your bring your puppy home, puppies that are born into a busy household and handled regularly will immediately be much more comfortable living in a family environment.
Remember that you can’t take your puppy anywhere that unvaccinated dogs may have been until they’ve had their second vaccination, so some suggestions for ways you can expose your puppy to new experiences while keeping them safe include:
• Meeting Lots Of People – The more people your puppy meets, the better. Even if you don’t have children yourself, introducing dogs to children during the Socialisation Period will help to make future encounters much easier.
• Visiting The Vet – Popping into the vets for a cuddle and treat from the team can help to build a positive relationship rather than one associated with needles or illness.
• Car Rides – Making sure your puppy is suitably restrained, enjoy trips out in the car to get them used to the experience. Start with short journeys and keep an eye out for signs of car sickness.
• Play Sounds At Home – Find clips on YouTube of thunder storms, traffic noise, children laughing and other sounds you would like to familiarise your puppy with. Start with the volume turned down low and gradually build it up.
Puppies tire easily and have relatively short attention spans so keep encounters short.
Allow your puppy to approach situations, encourage but never force them to do something new.
If your puppy looks nervous about a new experience, resist the urge to reassure or praise them, instead distract them with play until they no longer appear worried.
Puppy Parties are a great way to add to your socialisation training. These get togethers are designed to teach your puppy how to interact with others, as well as giving you the chance to pick up some great hints and tips and ask any questions you might have.
Why not bring your puppy along to our Puppy Parties? Our Head Nurse, Gail runs the Puppy Parties at our Firgrove Veterinary Centre in Yateley.
Call us on 01252 877799 to find out when the next sessions are and to book your puppy’s place!
If you have concerns over your puppy’s health or well-being, please get in touch.
St Kitts Veterinary Centre: 01252 844044
Basingstoke Veterinary Centre: 01256 844944
Crookham Park Veterinary Centre: 01252 913990
Firgrove Veterinary Centre: 01252 877799