Socialising your new puppy:
After settling in to his or her new forever-home and becoming adjusted to life in your family, you may want to start thinking about socialising your puppy. Essentially, socialisation is the process by which puppies learn to relate to people and other animals, helping them to develop manners that will be useful later in life. It can involve meeting and having pleasant encounters with as many adults, children, dogs and other animals as they are able for. It also allows your pup to become used to a wide range of events, environments and situations; teaching them not to fear the outside world.
So, now you know its importance, but how do you go about doing it? Well, that’s what we’re here for!
In this guide, we’ll assume that your new forever-friend has been vaccinated and is in the process of receiving their boosters. They must have these if you plan on bringing them anywhere outside your home. Young puppies are highly susceptible to diseases and viruses as their immune system can’t fire on all cylinders yet. As such, great care must be taken to ensure that your pet is more than able to fight these nasties on their own. If you need any help with boosters and vaccines, you can always give us a shout anyway or have a look here!
Baby Steps and Big Leaps:
The first few months of your pup’s life are critical to begin socialising, for it is in these early days that your pup will be at their most curious. It’s important to build on and continue this as your puppy gets older. Now, you may be thinking that there’s a knack to it, or maybe something that you yourself must be doing to help aid this socialisation… There’s not; all you have to do is take your puppy out and about as much as possible and as soon as they have settled in.
Begin slowly at first, gradually increasing the number of positive encounters as your puppy becomes older and gains confidence. It’s ludicrously easy to socialise your puppy, but you will need to put a bit of thought into how best to fit your pup’s education into your daily schedule, especially in this first year of their life.
Introducing Your Puppy to People:
Most puppies enjoy meeting new people, and most people will enjoy meeting a puppy (practically everyone). However, with all these new experiences, it can be easy for your pup to become overwhelmed, so ask those you meet to crouch down to meet them. It’s much better for your puppy if they can approach a new person, rather than the other way around.
Observe your puppy for signs of anxiety and, if things get too much, gently remove them from the situation. Remember, young puppies tire as easily as toddlers do, so keep encounters short with enough time in between for resting. During all encounters, protect your puppy from bad experiences. Young puppies have an innate ability to get themselves into trouble, so think ahead and try to prevent any unpleasant events from occurring. Remember: If their early life is pleasant and positive, your puppy will grow up feeling safe and confident to take on whatever else life may have in-store.
Useful Tips to Remember when Meeting People:
· Never pick up your puppy and pass them to someone. Puppies should always be able to make an approach in their own time and retreat if they feel the need to.
· An anxious puppy will try to look smaller, avoid eye contact, hold their tail low, put their ears back and keep away. Pay attention to these signs and act as soon as possible by taking your puppy away from whatever is causing their anxiety.
· A happy, relaxed puppy will stand up straight with their tail (or whole body) wagging and be keen to investigate.
· Avoid using food when introducing your puppy to strangers. This may teach them that all people carry food (if only). You’ll want your pup to approach people because they want to say hello, not to receive treats.
Your puppy should be carefully introduced to a variety of dogs as well as other puppies. Firstly, ensure that these dogs are safe around puppies and have had their vaccinations too. Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, so it’s important that you pup meets a good mix to ensure that they are not frightened of certain dogs when they’re older.
Monitor your pup as they play with other dogs and think about how you’ll want them to behave with unfamiliar dogs that they’ll meet later in life, especially when they’re bigger. For example; dogs that play physical games when they’re young (either with another puppy or an adult dog) often learn to expect these sorts of games from all dogs which is likely to get them into trouble. If play does start to get a bit rough, crouch down to provide a haven for your pup and restrict the other dog’s access to them.
Environments and Places:
Your pup will need to encounter a variety of different environments and situations in order to become fully socialised. This provides an opportunity to become familiar with a range of different scents, sights and sounds. If your dog is socialising well with humans, familiarisation with different environments should happen naturally. Try imagining how it feels to be that small, vulnerable and inexperienced… As the owner, you’re the boss and often you’ll find that your little friend will follow your lead (or the way you handle the world) when it comes to dealing with people, places and things that they’ve never met before.
Over and Out:
Armed with the above, you and your pup should be more than able to take on the world and learn it inside out. But, as Vets, we know accidents, injuries and illnesses can happen no matter how hard you try to avoid them. We’re always on hand at any time to help you through whatever life throws at your forever-friend. And, if you find yourself struggling with anything listed above, you can call us. We’d be happy to answer any questions you have. If that’s not enough, we recommend heading on over to DSPCA dog training website and seeing if one of their training courses would be right for you and your pup.
In the meantime, we wish you the best of luck in helping your four-legged friend discover the world!