Baston canine behaviour expert on how to socialise your puppy
It is good practice to start socialising your puppy the moment you bring them home, says canine behaviour expert Karen Wild.
But what does this involve? New experiences form a huge part of a puppy’s learning, and builds a confident, outgoing older dog.
Puppies need to meet and greet a large number of new people and other dogs, learning as they go about the outside world. Behaviour problems can arise from a lack of socialisation, but with lockdown, this has meant their social skills may be affected due to restrictions on contact. The goal is to pair new experiences with something rewarding, so that the puppy’s brain forms a positive connection.
Puppy socialisation starts the moment your puppy becomes aware of the outside world. This is long before they come to their new home with you! They have to have the right socialisation since birth. Pups learn about their siblings, their mother, and touch, smell, hear and see more and more as they develop. From around 8-9 weeks old puppies come to their new homes, and it becomes your responsibility to teach them these social skills.
Young puppies can be carried around until their vaccinations are complete, so there is no need to delay. Puppy parties used to be available at puppy training classes and at Vets, but since you may have got a puppy during lockdown, you will have to access other social interaction. Start socialising by taking puppy with you as part of life daily, seeing and hearing and smelling the day to day experiences in any public place. They can enjoy the outside world in a positive way, and when the Vet agrees, can walk on different surfaces, and may visit other homes and meet other pups and dogs.
Your puppy needs to meet and greet anyone who will be offering pet care, such as dog walkers, groomers, and don’t forget to visit your nearest local pet shop too. Car travel can be made fun and enjoyable, by providing tasty food (most puppies will do anything for a treat).
Above all, build up gradually.
If your family or ‘bubble’ own dogs, then as long as you follow your Vet’s advice, it is often best for puppies to meet and mix with other dogs. Dogs are going to meet other dogs for their entire lives, so they need to have positive experiences from an early age. It’s a good idea to recruit confident, generous adult dogs or other puppies that may be around the same energy level as your puppy at first.
A good dog training class can help you get to know other owners and teach your puppy that even under lockdown, other dogs are around and are a big part of their social group.
Find out more at https://pawprintpets.com