Your puppy will probably leave his mum when he is about 8 weeks to come to live with his new family. In those first few weeks at home is the best time to get him used to new situations, new faces and people, and new smells and sounds. Not only does he have to learn how to be a well behaved dog in your home, he needs to learn what is ok behaviour in all the situations he’s going to find himself outside the home. Here we’ve looked at why and how to socialise your puppy.
Making sure your puppy is introduced to all the new aspects of his world will allow him to grow up calm and confident. We want him to respond to new experiences and stimuli without fear and aggression. So he must go through the learning process to acquire his key life skills. These will allow him to behave as a good family dog and to get on with other dogs. So the next step is to address how to socialise your puppy….
What needs to be introduced?
There are a whole variety of factors that will need to be thought of and introduced to your puppy for him to get to grips with the world.
Places – He will be keen to explore different places – the countryside, town centres where it can be busier with people and traffic, other people’s houses, schools, pubs, lifts and travelling in the car.
Noises – Inevitably, he is going to hear lots of new noises – from loud fireworks to musical instruments, perhaps loud vehicles or noisy crowds (when and if we’re allowed to have crowds of people again…), hairdryers and washing machines.
People – And people, from young toddlers to older people. Children behave very differently from adults and your puppy needs to meet lots of different people to understand how they might behave and what behaviour from him is appropriate. As well as meeting different people, it will be important for him to experience different attire – people wearing glasses or hats, people with beards and people on bikes.
Surfaces – We obviously got this one wrong when Oscar and Hooch were puppies as Oscar never wanted to walk over metal manhole covers. Which was fine until we came to a metal bridge one day on a walk on holiday in the Yorkshire Dales! Get your dog used to tiled floors, sand and metal man hole covers!
Socialisation starts when he is born. He will have learnt a lot whilst with his mother and litter mates. And also from any experiences he’s had at the breeders. Have a good chat with your breeder about his temperament and development. Adding to this knowledge will help guide you with how to socialise your puppy.
Here’s a rough timeline of what should be introduced when:
Birth – 8weeks: he’s with his mother and litter mates so chat and get information from the breeder
8-12 weeks: wearing a collar and using a lead, puppy training at home, implementing house rules, getting used to sounds in the house, have close friends and family visit, also their dogs if fully vaccinated, explore safe areas such as your garden, go for walks away from other dogs and doggy areas, visit the vet.
12-16 weeks: interact with more strangers, explore your local area, visit new places like the beach or town centre, travel in the car, meet regularly with other dogs, have regular daily walks, attend puppy classes
Waiting until after the 12 week vaccinations?
Your puppy’s final vaccination will be when he is approx 12 weeks old. If you wait till to take him out, you will miss valuable time to socialise him. Take him out limiting his contact with other dogs and doggy areas. As long as you are careful and sensible, it is good to take him out.
- Go at your puppy’s pace.
- Let your puppy approach, rather than being approached.
- Encourage visitors/friends to crouch down.
- Avoid your puppy being picked up too much by other people.
- Introduce your puppy to children.
- Familiarise your puppy with people wearing hats/glasses or who have beards.
- Introduce your puppy to a variety of adult dogs. This topic warrants its own blog! Make sure you know the first dogs your puppy will meet and their temperament. A bad experience with another dog can create a fear of a breed.
- Go out and explore the great outdoors with your dog. Not only will he love it, so will you!
Check out our other puppy blogs