Experiences during the first few months of a puppy’s life have a major influence on his future temperament and character. Socialisation covers a variety of key learning experiences including mixing with other dogs and puppies enabling them to develop social skills. Familiarisation with everyday objects and activities is critical. Examples of important experiences for puppies to safely familiarise themselves with include vacuum cleaners, traffic noise, rustly plastic bags, other animals and a wide range of people including children. Introduce your pet to other environments such as towns and the countryside and get your dog accustomed to travelling in the car.
The best time to socialise your dog is while he’s a young puppy up to approximately 17 weeks of age, when he’s more receptive to new experiences. A fun and easy way to socialise your puppy is to attend puppy parties hosted by your local veterinary practice or dog training club.
It is advisable to complete a puppy’s vaccination course prior to starting puppy parties and mixing with potentially unvaccinated dogs on walks because unvaccinated puppies run the risk of contracting serious infectious diseases such as canine parvovirus. Vaccination primary courses for puppies are most commonly given as two injections 2-4 weeks apart with the final dose being given at 10-12 weeks of age.
Here are some top tips on socialising your puppy:
- Ensure that all your puppy’s experiences are positive, as nasty ones can make him fearful for life
- Introduce your pet to your friends and family and people that commonly visit your home, for example the postman
- Take things slowly and monitor your puppy’s reactions to these new experiences. It’s a lot for a puppy to take in and you don’t want to overwhelm him
- Take your puppy on short car journeys to get him accustomed to travelling and gradually build these trips up
- Take your pet to puppy parties. Not only will the classes introduce your puppy to other dogs, but the trainer will be able to give you hints and tips on behaviour and how best to socialise your puppy