Puppy socialisation is a puppy’s learning process for a lifelong set of skills. This helps ensure that he grows up as a happy and confident dog. It is not only exposure to other dogs but also to other animals and other environments.
Equip yourself with knowledge on how to dutifully navigate your pup’s different stages of development. When should you socialise your puppy? When does the puppy socialisation period end?
A puppy is more enthusiastic at learning new experiences at around 3 to 12 weeks old. Take this as an opportunity to introduce new things with your aid. From 13 weeks or older, he tends to be warier especially to new environments and situations. The process ends between 16 and 20 weeks.
Things to prepare
Introducing anything new to your puppy should be done one at a time in non-threatening ways. If you give too much information in a day, it can be overwhelming to your little pooch which could affect his behaviour. Take it slow and do not force your pup if you think he is still not ready.
Things to remember as you let him explore something new:
- Be sure you have a calm puppy.
- Prepare plenty of treats that you can quickly give.
- Give your puppy a choice to approach or back away from new things. There is always another day if you think your pooch needs a little time.
- Treat him with rewards the moment he tries to approach or engage with something new.
It is crucial in training not to associate new experiences as something fearful.
Signs of a scared puppy include:
- Ears pulled back
- Tail tucked between the legs
- Tense facial expression
- Wide eyes
Ways to socialise a puppy
The socialisation process begins as early as the first few days of a puppy’s life. The breeder is responsible for giving him access to explore his surroundings around the dam and his littermates. However, the moment the puppy goes home with you, you now bear the responsibility of the critical part of the socialisation period.
- Introduce new smells, sights, and sounds.
Similar to a newborn baby, a puppy will find the world as something new and strange. That being said, allow him to familiarise everything in a positive matter. Think of different environments and types of people, sounds, and texture. It may vary according to basic senses.
A dog’s brain tasked for evaluating the sense of smell comprises forty times greater than the humans’. With that, these furry creatures seem to put it to best use. Further, they process scent right to the limbic system which is responsible for the regulation of mood, emotions, and memory. With the presence of food treats, the dog’s sense of smell helps him reach emotional stability which plays a vital role in training.
Be patient in introducing new things to your pooch. Know that they see things in a dichromatic vision. This means that they can only recognise shades of blue and yellow. So, when introduced a red ball in a green ground, he may not know it sooner. Learn to catch his eyesight by putting the object in the centre of his vision. They see things that way and the sides around the centre tend to look blurry.
Puppies may be born deaf but by reaching one month of age, they will now have sensitive hearing. As such, they are easily shaken with loud noises which may develop into fears and phobias or noise sensitivity disorders when not corrected.
- Expand his exposure.
As you expand his exposure in terms of socialisation so does with bacteria and infection. As such, it is important to ensure all vaccinations are kept up-to-date. After that, you may now take him to different places such as the pet store, a friend’s house, and dog-friendly places.
- Consider enrolling him to puppy classes.
There are organisations and pet stores that offer puppy socialisation classes. As previously mentioned, any outdoor exposure should be done after his vaccinations. Puppy classes are beneficial both to you and your dog. This is a fun way of introducing him to other dogs with close supervision from you and the trainer. These classes will make him learn good manners and a few basic commands such as sit, stay, and wait. This will also help him acknowledge his own name and learn proper behaviour around people and other animals.
Puppy socialisation checklist
Puppy socialisation with people:
- Elderly people
- Men with beards
- People wearing costumes
- People wearing sunglasses
- people wearing hats
- People with baby strollers
- People with crutches
- People with shopping carts
- People with traveling bags
- People with a guide dog
- People in a wheelchair
- People on a bike
- People hiking or jogging
Puppy socialisation with sounds:
- Lightning and thunder
- Paper and plastic bag
- Vacuum cleaner
- Garbage trucks
- Street cleaners
Puppy socialisation in different places:
- Public parks
- Friends’ places
- School grounds
- Busy intersections
- Car rides
- Boat rides
- Public transportations
- Groomer’s place
- Veterinary clinic
- Pet stores
- Boarding kennel
- Pet-friendly stores
Puppy socialisation with different animals:
- Small pets such as guinea pigs, hamsters
The most important thing in the socialisation process is to accompany him on this journey and assure him of your affection.