Socialisation is one of the most important things you can do for your puppy as it helps them become friendly and outgoing. It’s all about giving them lots of positive new experiences, especially in their first few weeks of life.
How socialisation helps your dog
Socialisation has a big influence on your puppy. It teaches them about the world they live in and how they should react to normal, everyday events. A well-socialised puppy is more likely to grow up to be a friendly and outgoing dog.
Dogs that haven’t been socialised can have serious behavioural problems. They are more likely to be aggressive towards people or other dogs, suffer from anxiety and fear, and develop behaviour problems. These are issues which often result in dogs being given away to rehoming centres or even being put to sleep. Tragically, this happens to thousands of dogs every year.
But these problems can easily be avoided by giving your dog the right socialisation early on in their life.
The best time to start socialising your dog
Socialisation starts at birth. Puppy’s brains develop fast so it’s crucial that your puppy gets used to everyday experiences during the first 8 weeks of their life. This is usually while your new puppy is still with the breeder or at a rescue centre. Before you get a puppy, check that they’ve been given the right socialisation since birth. Our socialisation schedule will give you a good idea of what your dog should experience.
Socialisation doesn’t stop when you bring your puppy home. By 8 weeks old, they’ll be more wary of new situations and experiences so making these calm and positive is really important.
The golden rules of socialisation
- The experiences must be good. If your puppy seems anxious or afraid when they’re doing or seeing something new, just calmly end what they’re doing. Don’t try to comfort or reassure your puppy as this will make them think there was something to be scared about. Just be positive and upbeat and do something different. This is very important because otherwise your puppy can develop fears and phobias.
- Build up new experiences gradually. Go to a local row of shops before you go to a busy town centre. Take a walk on a quiet road before a busy road. When your puppy is calm and relaxed, give them occasional praise and healthy treats so that they enjoy the experience.
- Don’t introduce too many new experiences in one day. Three a day is a sensible number, Repeat them as often as possible once your puppy is happy with them.
- Your puppy needs to be vaccinated before they meet other animals. This will protect them from diseases like Parvovirus and Distemper, which can be fatal for puppies. Your vet can give you more advice about vaccinations and you can read our vets’ advice here.
- Keep a close eye on them when they play with other dogs. Don’t let their play get too boisterous or over-excited.
What experiences should you introduce to your dog and when? Our vets have put together a handy schedule to help keep your puppy's socialisation on track.
Keep your puppy motivated and help them learn to live happily alongside you with a positive, reward-based training programme.