Dogs live in human society as pets, so it’s essential we take precautions to teach them all the right social rules. You will need to plan for this long before you get a pup, but many people don’t. They then end up with big behavioural issues further down the line that cost a lot of time, money and anguish to sort out – or the dog ends up being rehomed which is not what anyone wanted for it when they saw that tiny big-eyed pup gazing up at them).
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! As I mentioned last week, they have to have the right socialisation instead of messy and chaotic clashes with other puppies.
Young puppies can be carried around until their vaccinations are complete, so there is no need to delay. 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. You can carry them in your arms, or if you think it’s easier, use a puppy carrier or sling such as this clever one.
More importantly, pair these experiences with nice situations. You can give the puppy regular breaks, let them return to you when they want, and take treats and toys for a little ‘happy boost’. Keep sessions short so that the puppy isn’t overwhelmed or too tired to enjoy themselves. If your puppy is reluctant, take your time and make a note of what was happening, so you can build up their confidence gradually over a period of visits/sessions paired with a nice experience such as their dinner or treats. Never assume that puppies like to be petted. They may not, or they may decide that enough is enough, which if someone doesn’t pay attention to, will put the puppy off in future.
Puppies 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 structured in a fun and enjoyable way – again, short bursts, let them have dinner or a chew they love in the car, such as the amazing Puppy Kong toys available here.
Never just drive straightaway! For the first few sessions, take your time over letting them get used to the car itself, their secure crate or harness, and the fact that you’ll be sitting in the front where they can’t reach you!
Above all, build up gradually.
If your family and friends 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 of all ages. Make sure the dogs like other dogs first, as we don’t want to upset them! 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. You can find more out about our puppy classes locally (in Greatford) or look on the ABTC website (ABTC.org.uk) to find a properly qualified and registered puppy trainer – be cautious around a hobbyist or someone without full ABTC-ATI registration, because puppy training is important to get right. Your puppy deserves the best care and you’re the one making the best choices for them.
Find out more about our puppy classes below!