What is socialisation?
The term socialisation is simply just letting your dog socialise with other dogs but also getting them to see as much of the world around them as possible. It’s key for ensuring your dog is happy and confident. The process of socialisation is a ‘critical period’ in the first 3 months of your dogs life. This is the time where any interaction matters.
The overall idea behind socialisation is that it helps your dog acclimatise to different sights, sounds and smells in a positive way. This process should prevent your dog being fearful of things like children, other dogs and cars etc in the future.
Why is socialisation important?
Socialisation is very important and key to your dogs development and future. The ‘critical period’ is key to personal growth. Just like there is a critical period for children learning to talk there is the same critical period for dogs to learn their surroundings. The experiences during this time are what can influence and shape both their future personality and behaviour. By providing a large number of opportunities for socialisation and exposure to different environments during this important time will help ensure your dog becomes a well-adjusted adult that gets on well with other dogs, animals and humans. If this isn’t done or done incorrectly it can affect the dogs future and personality.
As much as the socialisation period is extremely important for puppies it’s also important for older dogs. You can use the same techniques to change an unknown or fearful situation into a positive experience. It will be a slightly longer process compared to one with a puppy, as many things aren’t new to them and therefore already have connections, be it positive or negative. When socialising with an older dog it may be best to seek advice when doing so. Some dogs have had a difficult past and this could therefore cause difficulties in certain situations.
How to socialise your puppy
The socialisation process begins as soon as the puppy is born. The critical period is between 3-17 weeks, when the puppy is a little more able to comprehend different situations. For a puppy, everything is new and strange, so everything they come across is a good opportunity to create a direct positive connection.
Socialisation must be done in a safe and positive environment otherwise it could affect the outcome. It’s important to try and expose your dog to lots of different types of people, places, noises and textures. From the simplest of things like walking on carpet or wood, to meeting people with a beard or wearing sunglasses. The more you introduce to your dog when they’re young, the more confident they will become.
The crucial part, is to make it a positive atmosphere when introducing your puppy to all the new experiences. Use treats and praise in order for your dog to associate what they’re being exposed to as a fun experience. Make sure to gently expose your puppy otherwise it will all become too overwhelming and result in a negative and fearful response and therefore affect them when it comes to the next encounter.
One option is to go to puppy classes. Once your dog has had their vaccinations its a great place to meet other dogs and even people. They are there to offer a safe learning environment.
Socialisation is happening all the time for a puppy as everything is new, so a large part of the process is happening naturally on a day to day basis. However, it’s your role as an owner, to enforce these experiences and expose your dog to as much as possible within a safe and positive environment. This is key in order to build their confidence.
Get in touch today if you need any advice with either puppies or older dogs. We also sell treats to help with the training process.