Puppy Socialisation

Puppies need to learn how to interact with others around them, this is called socialisation. The socialisation process will teach your puppy to recognise whether or not they are being threatened and how to recognise and respond to the intention of others. You should keep repeating exposure to potentially frightening noises and situations, especially during the first 16 weeks of your puppies life. Here is a checklist of items you should introduce your puppy to - try and check them all off at least once:

Set some socialisation aims!

Places to go

Veterinary practice , the kennels, the groomers, other people's houses, a pub, parties, school, recreation ground, fetes, the roadside, on public transport, parks, a rural environment, a town/city environment, a lift, stairs, a market, slippery shiny lino and wooden floors.

Things to encounter

Hoovers,washing machines, tumble dryers, hair dryers, vehicles, children's toys, pushchairs, being alone, bicycles, power tools and fireworks.

People and animals to meet

Women, children, babies, elderly people, disabled and infirm people (walking sticks, frames etc confident/ loud people, shy/ quiet people, the milkman, the post man, the dustman, people with glasses, people with beards, people in wheelchairs, skateboards, roller-blades, people of different ethnic origin, people in baseball caps, other dogs/ puppies, cats, other domestic pets, and livestock.

Activities to accept

Walking on lead/harness, grooming, bathing, medical examinations, taking tablets and medications, tooth brushing.

Common problems with adult dogs which are stemmed from improper socialisation as a pup include nervousness around new people, fear of traveling in the car, separation anxiety and firework phobia.

Here are a few simple pointers to avoid some problems later in life!

New People

When strangers come to your home ensure they briefly say hello and play with pup only when it is behaving appropriately. Ignore barking and jumping up so it is not encouraged and continued as an adult dog. Supervise pup when meeting children and other animals. Let the puppy approach them as it may be nervous. If puppy becomes anxious take it somewhere quiet to recover. Don't let the puppy clamber on the child. Keep children and older dogs calm (excitable child/dog = over excited or frightened pup). Give treats ONLY when pup is calm and behaving well. Don't let pup do anything that they shouldn't do as an adult i.e nipping, chasing and jumping up.

Noise

Many loud noises can be startling for dogs including fireworks, alarms, power tools, thunderstorms, gunfire, hoovers and washing machines. Play with the puppy to distract them while these noises may be present, or do some training. Don't reassure, fuss or discipline them if scared, as this will reinforce the feeling of being scared.

Desensitisation

There are CDs available with a variety of these noises on them designed to aid 'desensitisation'. This is the very slow but worthwhile process of playing the CD very quietly at first, each day for a few days/weeks, then gradually increasing the volume so the dog does not associate the noise with anything bad, and does not feel threatened. The 'sounds scary' and 'sounds sociable' CDs are available through the surgery for around £20 each, and are well worth starting use of early in the year so the dog is prepared for the celebrations and fireworks later in the year.

The Car

Create a pleasant association with the car whilst it is stationary, i.e play games, give treats and cuddles etc. Place pup on a non slip, absorbent cosy bed. Carry on playing games with the car engine on. Do not acknowledge that anything is any different and he/she also won't notice! Allow pup to get settled in the car before driving away. Do short journeys initially, literally to the end of the road and back. Always close the doors without slamming and do not start the engine until the puppy is in the car. Drive carefully, taking care on bumps and corners! Very importantly, make sure pup is secure in a crate and unable to get into the rest of the car if leaving alone, even if only for 2 minutes. If the puppy is to ride in the car it must have a secure harness attached to a seatbelt.

If you have any problems or queries, please don't hesitate to call us and we'll be happy to help.

Our Puppy Pre-School is a perfect way to start social training with your new puppy. Please ask if you are interested in attending.

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Holly House Veterinary Clinic, Unit C, Moor Allerton Centre, King Lane, Leeds LS17 5NY

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