What is Socialisation
Socialisation is not what you may think it is. Many believe dog socialisation is just puppies or dogs forming social interaction with other puppies and dogs. This could be a bunch of puppies, off lead running around the room. And so, humans push for all classes to be in-person. However, this is only one small part of good puppy and dog socialisation.
Socialisation actually means the process of gradually exposing a puppy to a new situation so that they start to form positive associations with that new environment. This could be a hairdryer noise, the car, parks, the coffee shop, bikes, skateboards, home appliances, umbrellas, new people and also other puppies and dogs.
The period from 3 to 14 weeks of age is the most important time to develop, educate & start to socialise your puppy. So from 8 weeks when you get your puppy home, your role is to really focus on their continued early development.
Why is it important to socialise puppies and dogs?
We hear a lot about ‘dog socialisation’. But, why is it so important to socialise puppies and dog? A well-socialised dog has a much better quality of life as they can go to many places, including coffee shops, off-leash beaches and on holidays. Allowing them to have a fun and fulfilling time with their humans. Socialisation is more than just interaction with other dogs, it is the interaction with new environments, people, equipment, sounds and life experiences. Dogs who are accustomed to a wide variety of people, dogs and environments will also recover quickly if something scares them. They can deal more easily with new situations and stimuli. Depending on the age of the dog, there can be different reasons to socialise your pup.
Puppies have what we call a ‘finite socialisation period’. This means that things they have not seen by the time they are about 16 to 18 weeks old they might find scary. That is why we need to enrol them into a good puppy school ASAP. Once they are older than 14 weeks they can find it more challenging to socialise successfully and play off-leash with the other puppies in class.
Start at the beginning (not at the dog park)
Dog parks and off-leash areas are not the best places to start to socialise your pup (or new adult dog). These are challenging environments, even for socialised dogs, and require all interaction between dogs to be carefully supervised. Initially, your dog should be introduced to other dogs at a good puppy school or to other known, friendly dogs where interactions are well-managed and the dogs are set up for success. You should also continue to socialise your dog at a good teenage dog class.