Socialisation is one of the most important things you can do for your puppy as it helps them become calm and confident canines. It’s all about giving them lots of positive new experiences, especially in their first few weeks of life.
Socialisation during lockdown
The coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic had changed the way we can socialise our puppies at the moment. We wrote new advice to help you during this time. which can be found here
How socialisation helps your puppy
Socialisation has significant importance on your puppy. It teaches your pup about the world they live in and how to react to everyday events. A well-socialised puppy is much more likely to grow up to be a calm and confident dog.
Puppies that haven’t been well socialised can develop serious behavioural issues. They can be more likely to be aggressive towards people or other dogs, experience anxiety and fear, and suffer from behaviour problems. These issues often result in dogs being rehoming or in some cases, tragically, being euthanised. Sadly, this happens to thousands of dogs every year. These scenarios can be prevented by giving your puppy the right socialisation early in their life.
The best time to start socialising your puppy
Socialisation and habituation begin at birth. As puppy’s brains develop so fast it is vital that your puppy gets used to everyday experiences whilst still at the breeders or rescue centre, during the first 8-weeks of their life. Before you bring your puppy home, check that they’ve been given plenty of supported socialisation since birth.
Puppies will be with their mother and littermates. They should be allowed to smell people (men, women, and children) from an early age.
The breeder should let the puppy see and hear everyday household sights and sounds, such as the TV, vacuum cleaner, washing machine etc. The puppy should also keep meeting new people.
Breeders can start grooming and gently examining eyes, ears, paws and so on, every day.
Some puppies will be vaccinated at 6 or 7-weeks of age. The breeder should be allowing your puppy meet everyone in the family, including children and other people’s children. Puppies should enjoy playing and interacting with them. Ideally puppies will get used to meeting lots of different people. Puppies may also meet other common pets as well as babies, but contact should be supervised so they meet each other safely. Puppies should also meet older dogs.
8-weeks old when they come home to you
Our Puppy Basics and Socialisation Week by Week Plan will provide you with an easy to follow plan of what your pup should experience.
Remember, socialisation doesn’t stop when you bring your puppy home. By 8-weeks old, many will be warier of new situations and encounters, so making these calm and positive is vital.
The platinum rules of socialisation
The encounters must be positive. If your puppy seems scared or anxious when they’re experiencing or seeing something new, calmly stop what they’re doing. It is OK to comfort or reassure your puppy. Then move on to something different. It is essential not to deny comfort and reassurance if your puppy is asking for it, we want them to know to come to you when scared, not ignored.
Build up exposure to new experiences gradually. Go to a quiet local area before you go to a busy town centre. Walk on a peaceful road before a hectic main road. Remember when your puppy is calm and relaxed, give them praise and healthy treats to help them enjoy the experience. If they are overwhelmed give distance or take a break.
Don’t rush and introduce too many new encounters in one day. Three a day is a reasonable number, Repeat them as often as possible once your puppy is happy with them.
Your puppy needs to complete their vaccinations before meeting animals from other households. You are protecting them from diseases like Parvovirus and Distemper, which can be fatal for puppies. Speak to your vet to discuss your puppies vaccination plan and for more advice about vaccinations.
Supervise carefully when they are playing with other dogs. Don’t ignore them if they run to you as safety; make sure to interrupt if their play gets too boisterous or over-excited.