‘If you’ve been following us on Facebook, you may know that I got a new little cockerpoo puppy, Rio, a few months ago so all things puppy have been on my personal agenda this year. Even if you’ve had a previous dog it’s easy to forget just how much work a puppy can be. Here’s a little reminder of some things to think about…..’
Doranne (veterinary surgeon)
Rio at 8 weeks old
So you’ve got a new puppy……….
It’s an exciting and sometimes terrifying time when you bring home your new puppy so we are running a short series of blogs covering some if the topics which you will want to know about.
First up is puppy socialisation
So what is puppy socialisation?
Socialisation is the process by which puppies learn to relate appropriately to people and other animals. It involves meeting and having pleasant encounters with as many adults, children, dogs and other animals as possible. It also involves becoming used to a wide range of events, environments and situations.
Why is it important?
Experiences during the first year of a dog’s life can make all the difference to their future temperament and character. Taking the time to socialise your puppy can result in a friendly, well-adjusted adult dog who enjoys the company of people, can be taken anywhere and lives life to the full!
A puppy who lacks experience with the world will find many things that we take for granted scary and is very likely to grow up to be a worried dog. A frightened and anxious dog is more likely to develop behaviour problems than a dog who has had a rich, varied and positive puppyhood.
When should this be done?
The younger your puppy, the easier it will be to socialise them. This is because, as puppies get older, they become more cautious when faced with new experiences. The early weeks are particularly important because most puppies will approach anything or anybody willingly and without fear.
By the time your puppy reaches about 12 weeks of age, anything not yet encountered is likely to be approached with caution.
Therefore it is vital that, between three and 12 weeks of age, a puppy meets a wide variety of people, situations and other animals.
How much socialisation is done at this early age will often determine how confident your puppy is around people, other dogs and new environments later in life.
So what can you do?
Much of the socialisation process is easy – it is just about getting your puppy out and about and meeting as many people and animals as possible. If your pup has not had his vaccinations yet, remember he cannot go down on the ground out in the park or on the street but you can carry him in your arms for a walk around the park or to the shops. Puppies love meeting people and a lot of people love talking to pups so just let them and that way your pup will meet lots of new people. Take him in the car regularly or on the bus or the train. Deliberately walk past busy playgrounds so that he will see and hear children playing. You should invite people over to your house to meet your new pup but of course make sure he has plenty of rest time as well.
You should expose him to noises like bin lids slamming, doorbells, telephones ringing, vacuum cleaners – anything at all which he may encounter in later life.
You should expose him to both busy roads, safely of course, and also countryside environments and livestock if possible.
You should introduce him carefully to other puppies and adult dogs. Before he is fully vaccinated this may be limited but if you have friends and family with fully vaccinated, healthy, friendly dogs then you could introduce them gradually at home so that your pup can begin to learn some doggy etiquette.
Puppy classes can be useful but check out the class before you take your pup along. You are looking for a relaxed environment where all the pups are comfortable and are learning how to interact with humans and to play with other puppies.
Don’t forget to have fun with your pup – it’s a special and short time before they grow up so enjoy it and take pleasure from introducing him slowly and gradually to the world around him!
Please talk to us if you have any concerns or need any advice about your puppy!