Socialising your puppy
Socialising your puppy, especially if you are a first-time puppy parent is essential. It’s not only about getting your puppy used to other dogs and people, but it is also about ensuring that they get lots of positive experiences which will help them become happy adults.
It is important to give your puppy positive and varied experiences between the ages of 4-16 weeks. It is important that you give your dog a variety of positive experiences during this period (including new sights, sounds and surfaces as well as different skills). This will help him to respond to the experiences later in life.
RSPCA recommends rewards-based training in all aspects of training dogs. The dog is trained to perform the desired behaviour and then is rewarded with food treats.
Dogs and people
Your puppy should be able to socialize with people, dogs and puppies in a positive and safe way. This can be done by enrolling your puppy in puppy school. It is geared towards puppies aged between 11-18 weeks, to coincide with their critical period of socialisation.
You can take your puppy on play dates and meet your friends, family, and their dogs once your vet has told you that your puppy is at a safe point in its vaccination schedule. You should make sure the other dogs you are meeting with have up-to date vaccinations and are friendly. Once your puppy has been fully immunized, dog parks can be a good option. (You can find our tips on off leash dog parks in the Knowledgebase).
Surfaces, sounds and sights
It’s important to get your puppy used to as many objects, sounds, and sights as possible.
Dressing up is a great way to get your puppy used to different people. Dress up in winter clothing, sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats or scrubs to look like a vet. You can also use masks, beards and wigs. You can simulate different scenarios like someone coming to your front door or riding a bike. This is all about getting your dog used to these situations and rewarding them when they behave well around a “new” person.
You’ll find that your dog will encounter surfaces such as concrete, metals, grass, leaves and tiles when they are out and about. To get your dog used to these surfaces, you can recreate them in your backyard as a ‘experience walk.
You can help your dog become accustomed to the sounds that they will encounter in their lifetime by exposing them to different videos. You can find videos on the internet that you can use to play for your dog (such as sounds of cars, motorbikes and trains) but keep the volume down and reward calm behavior.
Experiences and Skills
Regularly touch their feet, ears, mouth and tail. You can use this to check your dog when you take them for routine care or when they go to the vet. Remember to always reward calm behavior in your dog to maintain positive interactions.
Even if you do not go anywhere, your puppy can get used to the car by turning on the engine. You can then make a few trips around the driveway. You can also give your puppy some of their meals while driving to help them form positive associations.
Knowledgebase has a wealth of information and tips for socializing your puppy, even in the COVID-19 pandemic. Congratulations on your new pup!