Puppy socialisation Puppy socialisation

The importance of puppy socialisation

From the very moment you choose your puppy, the urgency of socialising and training has already begun. 

An adult dog's temperament and behaviour habits (both good and bad) are shaped during puppyhood - very early puppyhood.  Did you know it takes a human baby 13 years to get to the same point of maturity that a puppy takes only a year or less to get to?*

The term ‘socialisation' means exposing your puppy to new people, animals, places and experiences in a positive way.  We never want our puppy to be frightened by new things so we shouldn't push them into situations they are uncomfortable with.  If we do push them over their threshold they may develop a life-long fear of that stimulus.

Here is a common example: "Emma takes her 10 week-old puppy Maddie to a friend's house for a play date - they have two bouncy Labradors that bound over to say hello.  Maddie is frightened by this and hides behind Emma's legs.  Emma tells the puppy not to be scared and pushes her out to play.  The dogs bounce all over her, and playfully hit her with their paws.  The next time Maddie sees an adult dog she remembers how they hit her with their scary paws and she feels she needs to keep herself safe, so she growls and snaps at them in fear."

While both socialisation and basic training are very important we have to keep in mind that there is a very limited window of opportunity to socialise a puppy, so it is important for owners to be proactive and not put the task off "for another day".  Most puppies go to their new home between 8-12 weeks of age and the puppy socialisation period ends at around 16 weeks.  This means we have a maximum of only two months to expose them to as many things as we can in a positive way.

Totally Vets run a very popular Puppy Preschool where owners learn lots of valuable information, puppies begin to learn basic obedience and most importantly they receive lots of positive experiences of the vet clinic, of new people and of other puppies.  Even for the most experienced dog owner we recommend that every new puppy should attend a Puppy Preschool because even if you have taken a previous puppy to class and learnt the information, your new puppy will benefit hugely from the socialisation they will receive by attending. 

It is a common misconception that a new puppy will gain adequate socialisation from a resident adult dog at home.  While they may form a strong bond and become the best of friends, this adult dog is a familiar family member and may not help your puppy to learn vital socialisation skills for meeting and interacting with new dogs and puppies.

Start your puppy off on the right paw - book in to our Puppy Preschool today.

*from "Before You Get Your Puppy", by Ian Dunbar