Socialising a puppy is vital for their development. If not done correctly, it can lead to behavioural problems. Here are our tips for getting it right.
As new members of the world, there are a lot of lessons that puppies need to learn. Feeling confident and comfortable with a wide range of people, pets and places is at the top of the list, and this all falls under the umbrella of ‘socialisation’. Here are our tips for socialising your puppy.
Where to start with puppy socialisation
Socialisation starts from the moment you first pick your puppy up. Each new experience will help your puppy understand what to make of the world around them. Encountering every new smell, sound and sight in a positive way will build their confidence and let them grow into well-adapted dogs.
It’s very important that you don’t allow your puppy to interact with other dogs before they have completed their vaccinations, but puppies who are 8-16 weeks old are in the key stage for developing their socialisation skills. A great solution is to enrol your puppy in puppy school which provides a safe environment for your pet to encounter other humans and puppies and also learn some basic cues.
Before it is safe to take your dog outside, you can still encourage the socialisation process at home. In this period, you can introduce your pet to things such as appliances (especially the noisy vacuum cleaner), new materials under their paws and different scents.
How to socialise a puppy
Once their vaccinations are up-to-date, socialisation should be your key focus. It’s very important that your puppy interacts with lots of new people and animals, as well as takes part in varied experiences in their early stages so they can work out the right way to behave.
If your puppy isn’t correctly socialised, they can develop phobias and behavioural problems that can be very hard to fix down the track. You should encourage their curiosity and respond positively when they tackle a new experience. If your puppy responds with fear to a new person or animal, it’s important that you don’t make a big deal of it or remove them from the situation briskly. This will only reinforce negativity and lay the foundations for a fearful response in future. If you see your puppy relax and respond warmly to a new experience, reward them with praise.
Puppy socialisation checklist
Your puppy should learn how to interact with lots of different people and pets in normal day-to-day scenarios. You should introduce your puppy to:
People & animals
- children of all ages
- adults, both men and women
- people of different ethnicities
- people with hats, glasses, facial hair, etc.
- people with crutches, wheelchairs, canes, etc.
- people on motorbikes, bicycles, scooters, etc.
- dogs and other puppies
- other pets, including cats, guinea pigs and rabbits
- wild animals in your area
- parks and beaches
- veterinary clinics
- pet stores
- other people’s homes
- car parks
- construction sites
- ponds and rivers
- different surfaces – grass, slippery floors, stairs, wobbly surfaces, mud, sand, carpet, etc.
- riding in your car
- bath time
- leash training
- crate training
- loud noises – vacuums, fireworks, traffic, hair dryer, microwave, music, large crowds, etc.
- having various parts of their body handled and inspected – teeth, mouth, paws, etc.
- rain and thunderstorms
- wearing clothing
Tick items off at puppy school
Tick many items off this checklist including meeting diverse groups of people and puppies, leash and crate training, being handled, and experiencing loud noises by registering your pet in our puppy school. Petbarn’s puppy school is a fun and interactive course that will not only teach you how to train your puppy, but also allow your puppy to socialise in a positive environment.