Socialising puppies is important - BUT What is Socialisation?
It’s always so exciting bringing a new puppy home for the first time, thinking of the things you and your new best buddy will be able to do together. There is always so much to think about for your new friend, do I have a soft enough bed, tasty enough treats? It’s hard not to worry about every little thing that your puppy might need. As well as thinking about their physical needs, we also have to think abut how we are going to help them develop into a confident, friendly dog. Socialisation is an integral part of helping your puppy develop, but why is it so important and how can you get it right for your puppy?
Puppy Socialisation: Is It Important? YES, YES, YES, YES, YES
Living In A Human World
We hear so much about puppies, how best to train them and get them used to to daily life, but there is so much information out there, its hard to know what to trust. You want to do the best for your puppy as they grow so they can become a well mannered, confident and friendly dog. Socialisation is an important part of your growing puppy’s life, and is a way in which they will learn how to react appropriately to both people and animals in their world. Socialisation helps puppies learn to become confident in a variety of environments and situations, and is all about exposing them to new things to help them learn that the world is a fun and exciting place, not a scary place!
Providing a good learning foundation makes it easier for a dog to deal with challenges they may encounter in life. Early socialisation allows your puppy to grow into a confident, well-rounded dog that copes well with life in a domestic setting. We have to remember that dogs are living in our human world, and should be taught (with lots of positive reinforcement) how to become resilient enough to cope with and accept the stresses that daily life brings.
The Problem With Lack Of Socialisation
Unfortunately the number one reason that dogs end up in shelters or having to be rehomed is that owners didn’t put enough effort in during early life stages to make sure their dog is well socialised and confident in lots of different situations. The most common age for a dog to be put up for rehoming is around 1-2 years of age, when the cute puppy face has faded and they move into the ‘troublesome teens’ where behaviours can become probelematic. It can take a lot of work to retrain and change the dogs way of thinking at this age, and some dogs, if particuarly badly treated, may never recover.
Of course, we all want a well mannered, confident dog, and there are steps that you can take to ensure your dog grows up well-rounded, confident and happy being able to cope with the challenges that daily life brings.
Make sure you take your time selecting your puppy from a respected & knowledgeable breeder who will already have given your puppy the best start to life and started their socialisation journey before you collect him.
So What Is Socialisation?
Puppies are not born being accepting and friendly to every animal or person they see, they need to be taught this. Puppies are learning from the moment they are born, seeking their mother’s milk and interacting with their siblings helps them to start to develop their social skills. When a puppy nuzzles into his siblings, he gets the benefits of warmth and of feeling safe as a group. This forms a positive association between being close to his siblings: interact with them and get the benefit of warmth.
When we take a new puppy home, we are taking that puppy away from his siblings and parents and the breeder that he has so far learnt all of his social skills from. It is so important to carry on allowing you puppy to socialise, both with you and other dogs, to continue the development of his social skills. Puppies love to make new friends, and should be encouraged to do so!
Where Do I Start?
Puppy socialisation is fun and easy for both you and your dog, it can be as simple as getting your dog to join in with you in as many activities and environments as possible. For example, taking your dog for walks near building sites to get them used to loud noises and people in workwear, or walking them with a friend’s dog and allowing a short off lead playtime. The process of socialisation does not have to be complex, just make sure your puppy gets lots of opportunities to meet new people and animals, and experience new things!
You can even help your puppy to love going to the vets! If your puppy receives treats and praise when he behaves at the vet, he is more likely to want to return there, because it was a good experience last time. It is important to remember your puppy is an individual, and what works for one puppy may not work for another. Embrace this, it would be boring if all puppies were the same, and you may find new and exciting ways of working with them! Some puppies start life confident and laid back, others are more timid and flighty. Your training needs to adapt to your puppy’s individual needs and when introducing to new dogs, ensure you don’t force the puppy into a situation it is uncomfortable in, so you can avoid your puppy becoming frightened and having a negative experience.
Puppies Love New Experiences!
Variety is the spice of life as they say, and the same goes for your puppy! Introducing them to lots of different people, animals and environments helps develop their confidence and life skills, make sure to supervise these interactions to ensure that it stays a positive experience for your puppy. Short sessions are great for young dogs, as they have a short attention span. A pro tip is to end each session on a postive note, so that your puppy is excited to start the next session.
It is also important to stay consistent: keep going! It can be frustrating and feel like you are getting nowhere sometimes, but you may not be noticing the small changes that are happening with your dog. You will reach your goals with hard work and perseverance, so don’t be defeated if you feel like your training isn’t going how you hoped. Dogs are constantly learning throughout their lives, so it is important to carry on training throughout adulthood.
We love seeing puppies developing into well rounded adult dogs with great socialisation and training, as well as building a great bond with their owners whilst they learn. You can build an unbreakable bond with your pup too with proper training and care, just make sure you both have fun!
If you need help with your puppy, at Oakington Dog Day Care Centre we have our Little Treasure’s Puppy Club that is indiviually tailored to your dog. This 4 week programme introduces your puppy to everyday health checks and care tasks, such as being towel dried and having their paws checked, as well as introducing them to basic training such as waiting patiently at gates and doorways.
We can’t wait to meet your Little Treasure!