The number 1 question every new dog owner has when they bring home their new puppy is when should I socialise my puppy?!
Before we address the question- it is an absolute must that your puppy is fully vaccinated before you introduce your puppy to other dogs. Your dog will generally receive their vaccinations in 3 visits. The last visit will complete their vaccinations for a full year.
Please consult with your vet to ensure your dog has received all their vaccinations before introducing them to other dogs.
So when should I socialise my puppy?
There is a very small window of opportunity in which you should socialise your puppy and it is very important that you do so during this period or you simply miss out!
Dog behaviouralists will vary in their opinion of the exact weeks however they all generally fall within 12-16 weeks of the age.
Of course each puppy will vary however, we urge you to ensure that you commence socialising your puppy within this age bracket.
Why is socialisation so important?
Socialising your puppy is important for all the obvious reasons. Your dog
will be happy, friendly, have a healthy mental state and is less likely to develop any behavioural issues steaming from fear which is caused from a lack of socialisation.
We all know why it is important. What we don't consider is well what if we don't socialise our puppy and this is where we realise just how important socliasation is. Without good socialization, your puppy will likely be shy and skittish and with experience, your puppy is likely to learn that going on the offensive can drive away the things that frighten him or her which then eliminates their fear.
The problem? your puppy develops into an adult that is aggressive, lunging, barking and snapping at other dogs or humans. You may be thinking perhaps "those" dogs are just aggressive full stop however, aggression is always a response to a trigger and most of the time that trigger is fear.
There are no guarantees in life, so we can’t promise you that high-quality early socialization will prevent a hundred percent of behavior problems a hundred percent of the time. But the odds of trouble do go way, way down.
How can I safely socialise my puppy?
So now you know how important it is to socialise your puppy, the next step is simple - take them out, take them everywhere.
Expose your puppy to new surroundings, the park, the cafe, the dog beach, puppy school - you get the picture!
This also may sound a little silly and I'm sure it hasn't crossed your mind but introduce your puppy to everyone. Let men, women, children of all types pat your dog and interact with your dog. This will ensure your puppy grows up to be comfortable with all types of people. I am sure you know of at least one or two dogs that is fearful of men or children. This may have been because of an incident. It is easy to assume this however, it can also be out of fear. If your puppy isn't familiar with this type of person, the unknown is "scary".
Your puppy should also meet other dogs and puppies who you know are friendly and healthy. A well-run puppy school or doggy day care is the perfect controlled space to do this. Avoid socialising your dog in an uncontrolled environment where you do not know the other dogs temperaments. A negative experience can have the opposite effect.
Many dogs are afraid of unfamiliar sounds. Make sure your puppy hears all types of sounds. Police sirens, fire trucks, the repetitive beep a truck makes when it’s backing up, banging pots and pans, doorbells, intercoms and sharp sounds. Cracking sounds are often culprits in dog phobias (particularly fireworks) so download free recordings from the Internet and play them as background music one day.
All of these activities will eliminate your dog's fear and make these people, animals and sounds familiar to them which is fantastic for their mental health, and will support them in growing into a health young adult.
For more information or guidance, please feel free to contact us at www.welovedogz.com.au or 1300 606 601.
We would be more than happy to discuss your puppy's needs and work with your Puppy pre-school or trainer to help your dog develop into a healthy adult.
We Love Dogz Outdoor Doggy Day Care
Lower North Shore Sydney
1300 606 601