Socialising

Socialising

Socialising a puppy is vital for their development. If not done correctly, it can lead to behavioural problems. Here are our tips for getting it right.

Once their vaccinations are up-to-date, socialisation should be your key focus. It’s very important that your puppy interacts with lots of new people and animals, as well as takes part in varied experiences in their early stages so they can work out the right way to behave.

If your puppy isn’t correctly socialised, they can develop phobias and behavioural problems that can be very hard to fix down the track. You should encourage their curiosity and respond positively when they tackle a new experience. If your puppy responds with fear to a new person or animal, it’s important that you don’t make a big deal of it or remove them from the situation briskly. This will only reinforce negativity and lay the foundations for a fearful response in future. If you see your puppy relax and respond warmly to a new experience, reward them with praise.


Introducing him to your family, friends and visitors

At the age of 3 months your puppy’s brain is developing well and has the ability to learn quickly although his attention span is very short and he will be easily distracted. You should observe your puppy and work at his pace. Your puppy will tire easily, so all the experiences should be frequent but short.

New sounds and the outside world
Try gradually introducing him positively to new sounds and surroundings. If he has a bad experience then it has the potential to develop into a lifelong phobia. An inappropriate reaction from you can have an impact on his behaviour. You can assist in the process by repeating the experience and deal with it in a positive and rewarding way.

Irrational and unexpected fears
During your puppy’s development and despite your previous efforts to curb his fears there are “heightened awareness” phases that your puppy will go through.

  • He will display behaviours that will suggest that he is frightened of objects that may have been previously familiar to him and may become insecure with new experiences.
  • Whatever the reason for this fear you must assist him to overcome his irrational fears by showing calmness and patience.
  • Increase his exposure gradually and gently.

Positively reward him with a treat or verbal praise when he is coping appropriately with the situation.

Forcing him to confront his fear or repeated reassuring him by stroking him when he is being fearful will actually reinforce his behaviour and result in an undesirable trait.

Puppy Socialisation Checklist

Your puppy should learn how to interact with lots of different people and pets in normal day-to-day scenarios. You should introduce your puppy to:

People & animals

  • children of all ages
  • adults, both men and women
  • people with hats, glasses, facial hair, etc.
  • people with crutches, wheelchairs, canes, etc.
  • people on motorbikes, bicycles, scooters, etc.
  • dogs and other puppies
  • other pets, including cats, guinea pigs and rabbits

Places

  • sidewalks
  • parks and beaches
  • veterinary clinics
  • pet stores
  • other people’s homes
  • car parks
  • construction sites
  • ponds and rivers
  • different surfaces – grass, slippery floors, stairs, wobbly surfaces, mud, sand, carpet, etc.

Experiences

  • riding in your car
  • grooming
  • bath time
  • leash training
  • crate training
  • loud noises – vacuums, fireworks, traffic, hair dryer, microwave, music, large crowds, etc.
  • having various parts of their body handled and inspected – teeth, mouth, paws, etc.
  • rain and thunderstorms
  • swimming
  • wearing clothing