Introducing your puppy to the world around them
You’ve just welcomed a new puppy into your home and have heard that you need to socialise them. But do you know what that means or what it involves?
Here’s everything you need to know to ensure your pooch is properly socialised as a youngster. This will help enable them to grow into a calm and confident dog.
In this page we’ll be looking at:
What is puppy socialisation?
The first four months of a puppy’s life are vital. This socialisation window is when they are learning about ‘normal life’ - working out what to make of all the new people they meet and things they experience.
During this time, puppies need to be carefully introduced to a range of people, dogs, noises, objects and experiences. That way they will accept these as normal. This will give them the best chance of coping well and feeling confident in various situations as they get older.
However, the introduction of new experiences needs to be gradual and controlled. It must also be done when your puppy is relaxed. It’s vital that puppies learn about everyday life in a positive way.
Is your puppy showing high levels of arousal? Have you seen signs that they’re becoming worried or frightened? If so, it’s important that you stop the interaction or activity straight away.
Puppies that are overwhelmed or have negative experiences during this early period of life are more likely to be worried and develop behaviour problems as an adult.
Problems can also arise where these early experiences don’t match what happens as they get older. Dogs are more likely to worry about things that they didn't come across when they were young.
When to socialise your puppy
You should start to socialise your puppy as soon as they join your family. But this must begin in the home.
It is important that puppies don’t go out walking in public before they are fully vaccinated, as certain potentially serious diseases can be picked up from the environment and other dogs if your puppy does not have immunity to these diseases through vaccination. Speak to your vet about how long your pup needs to wait after vaccination before going outside. Your dog should also start an anti-parasite regime before going outside. Again, speak to your vet for advice on what’s most suitable for your individual dog.
Puppies can, however, be carried outside - perhaps in a carrier or sling - so you can begin to introduce them to the world around them. This will enable you to begin the socialisation process without them going on the ground. Then, once they can venture out on their own four paws, you can continue to give them new experiences further from home.
How to socialise your puppy
You may want to create a puppy socialisation checklist. That way you can make sure you have covered everything that’s required. Here’s what needs to be on it.