The word “Socialisation” is used a lot when we are talking about dogs. Often this word is misunderstood and thought of as just “getting your dog to like other dogs” but socialisation is not just reserved for other dogs.
Whilst positive exposure and early socialisation with other dogs is crucial to a puppy’s development, too much emphasis is placed on it, when actually, socialisation and exposure goes far beyond a puppy play date or interacting with the puppies in their Kindy class. In fact, teaching puppy to be neutral around other pups and have “impulse control” should be a major focus of a good puppy kindy.
The crucial development time for social and environmental exposure occurs within the first 16 weeks of puppy’s life. A good breeder will have already commenced the process, then from the moment you bring puppy home you should be doing your best to safely expose your puppy to AS MUCH as possible prior to 16 weeks. Think about that part of their mind being like a blank photo album; it is your responsibility to fill it with as many positive memories and experiences as you can.
Failure to correctly socialise your puppy can lead to issues such as fears and phobias, reactivity and lack of confidence - which can bring about its own set of complex issues.
When you are providing your puppy with social experiences it is extremely important that you control the interactions to prevent negative experiences. We always promote quality socialisation over quantity. If you are unsure about the best ways to provide your puppy with positive social exposure speak to one of our friendly trainers.
SOCIALISATION AND EXPOSURE CHECK LIST:
Animals & People
o Children (various ages from baby, toddler, young child, adolescent, teen and young adult)
o Both men and women
o People in different clothes such as hoodies, hats and sunglasses
o People in uniforms such as police/fireman, workwear eg steel cap boots & fluro jackets
o People with facial hair such as a beard
o People who wear glasses or face coverings
o People with canes, wheelie walkers or wheelchairs
o People with umbrellas
o Dogs and puppies
o Other pets, such as cats, horses, chickens, pocket pets and any other animal you plan on owning or being around at any stage of your dog’s life.
o Drain covers
o Places where people ride scooters, skateboards, and bicycles
o Vet clinics (outside of appointment times i.e. picking up pet food)
o Other peoples homes
o Places with more foot traffic
o Places with other surfaces, grass, tiles, wood floors, sand etc.
o Stairs (both closed and open stairs)
o Riding in the car
o Being in a crate
o Grooming and bath time
o Lawn mower
o Rain and different weather (get out in the yard with them and make it fun despite the weather!)
o Having a collar and leash attached to them
o Swimming (always supervise)
o Being handled; paws, ears, nails
o Being left alone for short periods of time
(you can get creative with this list!)
o Vacuum cleaners
o Banging pots and pans
o Hair Dryers
When it comes to social and environmental exposure, you are only limited by your imagination. Whilst we don’t want to expose puppies that haven’t been fully vaccinated to areas of high dog traffic, we can definitely show them so much of our world in a safe and controlled manner.