Puppy socialisation

What does socialisation mean?
Socialisation is getting your puppy used to people and other animals so that they are not scared of them. Habituation is teaching your puppy that strange experiences, objects and situations are nothing to be scared of.
If your puppy is not socialised correctly this can lead to fear and aggression problems in the future. Socialisation should begin with the breeder, by getting a puppy that has been brought up in a house they will be used to different people and household appliances from an early age, those brought up in a outside kennel environment would have been exposed to less things which means more work for you and potentially a more fearful puppy.
Puppies can be vaccinated from 8 weeks of age with the final injection at 10-12 weeks. Having their vaccines done early means they can go out earlier, before they are fully vaccinated you can carry them around to help expose them to traffic noise and busy places.
Here at Rainsbrook Veterinary Group we run puppy socialisation classes and puppies are allowed to come after they have had their first vaccination. This allows them to meet other dogs, people and get used to coming to the vets and having a positive experience.
Most socialisation should be done by 16 weeks, but dogs of any age can be socialised but it takes longer and you need to be slower.

How to socialise correctly
Let your puppy experience something new and praise/reward the good calm behaviour, keep calm as your puppy will pick up on this. If they show fearful behaviour, remove them from the situation and try again but at a longer distance. Once they stop showing fear increase the distance. There are a few checklists at the bottom of this blog for you to work through with your puppy.

Puppy development:
It is important to know about the development stages your puppy goes through as they grow up.

  • 5-7 weeks: Most curious, and willing to approach new things but will show fearful behaviour
  • 8-12 weeks: Learning about the new world.
  • 4-8 months: Teenager pup! During this time they ignore commands and push their luck
  • 6-14 months: Scaredy ‘cat’, they start becoming fearful of things they used to be fine with

Breed type
Depending on the breed or breeds you may need to pay more attention to certain things.

  • Toy: prone to separation anxiety.
  • Working: Spend lots of time ensuring they are well socialised with other dogs and strangers. Utilise their natural working instincts with toys and games.
  • Hounds: Try and encourage them to pay attention to you when there are interesting smells or other animals. Work hard on their recall.
  • Pastoral/herding: Provide them with plenty of mental stimulation, occupy their minds so they do not go chasing and herding things.
  • Terriers: Use toys and games to distract them from fast moving animals. Care around small animals.

USEFUL CHECK LISTS:

Socialisation list – People
 All ages, young to old
 All races and gender
 All physical abilities and size
 Wearing beards, glasses, hats
 Running, cycling, skateboarding
 Carrying umbrellas, walking sticks

Socialisation list – animals
 Dogs of all age, breeds, size
 Cats
 Rabbits and small pets
 Sheep and cattle
 Horses with and without riders

Socialisation list – environment
 Household appliances
 Traffic
 Postman and paperboy
 Travelling
 Loud noises including babies, fireworks, thunderstorms
 The vets

 

GOOD LUCK! Remember to enjoy your puppy, and your vets are always on hand to offer any advice if you are worried.

Useful literature:
http://www.thepuppyplan.com run by Dogs Trust and The Kennel Club

The Perfect Puppy By Gwen Bailey

Click & Train your Dog by Mary Ray

puppy school

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