The most critical time for your puppy’s learning is 7 to 16 weeks of age. During this time, puppies can absorb a great deal of information. If they have positive experiences with people and animals, they are less likely to be afraid of them later. Here’s how you can properly socialise your puppy:
Take baby steps, don’t do too much too soon. Introduce your puppy to a few family members then slowly again with strangers. Taking him to busy places could be overwhelming and we don’t want to create a fearful response to groups and strangers in the future.
Take your puppy to places by car, take him to a bus station, to a train station, on a train if possible. Step into the Vets waiting area and out again. Visit a park, farm, construction site to get used to different sounds and surroundings. Encourage your puppy to walk on wet grass, leaves, sand, to experience new senses underfoot. Teach him to use stairs. This will all help your puppy get used to different sights, sounds and smells in a positive way.
Once he has had the correct vaccinations a great way to help socialise a puppy is to attend puppy classes. These are classes designed especially for early socialisation. Typically, puppy classes will involve off-lead play and play-fighting to help socialise puppies with each other, teaches them to be gentle with their mouthing and biting, Puppy classes also teach some basic obedience skills so it’s a win win.
Bad experiences at an early age can make negative impressions for years to come. Sometimes, certain situations are just too much for your puppy. If he is having a good time, he will look the part. Ears will be up, eyes will be bright, and he may wag his tail or whole body and actively seek interaction. If your puppy is not enjoying himself, learn to recognize signs of stress to avoid causing emotional harm, like tail tucking, ears down and back, turning the head or body away from people who approach for example.
Again, all good behaviour can be rewarded with treats and praise to let them know they’re doing a great job socialising into their new exciting world!
By Sami Beale