How to introduce your puppy to other dogs
It’s important for your puppy to meet a variety of different dogs of all shapes, sizes and ages. Playing with pooches helps their development. It enables them to understand other dogs’ body language and learn how to behave with them. Positive experiences will prepare your pup to cope when they encounter dogs in adulthood. If they miss out on this, they may find it difficult to be around other dogs as they get older.
Of course, social distancing has made it hard to do this. As a result, some may be wary or nervous as they get closer to other dogs for the first time. While others may feel very excited.
They may have got used to the sights, sounds and smells of other dogs (from a distance) during lockdown walks. Now restrictions have eased, start to step a little closer and allow them to interact. Then they can start playing together too.
Steps for introducing your puppy to other dogs
Ready to start socialising your pooch? Here’s some top tips to help them make friends in no time.
Step one: Firstly, encourage your pup to walk on a loose lead and keep their attention on you. Reward them when they do and practise until they can walk on lead calmly.
Step two: Start to walk at a distance from other dogs. Make sure your pooch keeps their focus on you and don’t get close enough for them to become excited or worried. Remember to bring treats with you so you can reward them for calm behaviour.
Step three: Over time, slowly start to walk a bit closer to other dogs.
Step four: Once they are used to seeing other dogs, you could arrange a walk with a friend and their pooch. Your puppy can then learn to walk alongside them too. Keep both dogs on-lead to begin with.
Step five: Providing both pups are relaxed, you can let them greet each other on-lead. Let them say hello and have a sniff, then keep moving.
Step six: Once they’ve got to know each other and are happy, it’s time to let them off the lead to play together. Just make sure you have trained them to come back when called.
Remember, always go at your dog’s pace. If at any point they seem unsure or overwhelmed, go back to a stage where they were relaxed. Then progress more slowly.
Top Tip: Your pup needs to have had their full vaccination course before leaving the house to exercise and meet other dogs. But, you can start socialising puppies before their vaccinations. Do this by carrying them outside to start to introduce them to the sights, sounds and smells of the world. This will prepare your puppy for when they can meet other dogs.
What is puppy socialisation?
Socialisation doesn’t just mean introducing your puppy to other dogs. It’s the time when they learn about life and what is safe and normal. The first four months of a puppy’s life are vital. It’s important to carefully introduce them to a range of experiences in a positive way. This includes:
- Meeting a variety of dogs
- Observing other animals such as cats and horses
- Getting them relaxed with being handled
- Meeting all types of people across both adults and children
- Preparing them for hearing different sounds
- Encountering various environments and objects
- Being introduced to new experiences, such as being on their own
Lockdown has prevented some puppies from having these crucial life experiences as early as they should. Don’t worry though, it’s not too late to prepare your pooch for new experiences.
It’s very important that puppies are not anxious or overwhelmed when they are experiencing new things. So, start to prepare them for days out before you even leave your house.
How to introduce dogs to doggy day care
Whether you’re heading into the office or are getting away for the weekend, occasionally we might need someone to look after our pooch. Your pup should already have started to walk and play with other dogs before they go. However, this is a good opportunity for them to spend time with others.
Whether you are looking for a dog walker or doggy day care, you need to check they have:
- Relevant insurance
- The necessary training and experience
- Good reviews
- Appropriate equipment
- A contract and schedule
- Reward-based methods
Once you have found the right one, make sure you meet up. That way, your pooch can get to know them and you can tell them everything they need to know about your pup. You may want to go for a walk together first. Then, you could do a trial to make sure it’s the right fit, perhaps one walk or one afternoon – and go from there. Now you are ready to start socialising your puppy and can look forward to watching them play with their new friends. But, your dog doesn’t just socialise with four-legged friends, you need to get them used to humans too. Make sure you prepare them for visitors as well.
Are you looking for puppy classes to help introduce your pup to other dogs?
Then take a look at our Dog School classes. Here your pooch will have the opportunity to meet, and learn how to interact, with furry friends – where social distancing rules allow.
Sign up for Dog School classes