Socialisation……we all talk about it, we know we’re supposed to encourage our puppy to do it, but what exactly is it??
Well, to define ‘socialisation’, we can say it’s “a process of acquiring the knowledge, language, social skills and values to conform to the norms and roles required for integration”. Sounds a bit complicated! It’s not don’t worry. When looking at puppy socialisation, we’re looking to ensure our puppy has the very broadest of experiences possible, to ensure he is able to adequately and comfortably cope with anything and everything he will encounter in life. Socialising your puppy is essential, exposing your puppy to a vast variety of environments, people, animals and experiences is crucial. It will enable your puppy to build up positive associations with so many different environments and stimuli, so when faced with them throughout life, he will be able to comfortably cope without too much stress or unease.
We want to habituate (repeated exposure to a stimuli thereby decreasing response) your pup to absolutely anything and everything. We HOPE your breeder has already started your puppy off with fantastic socialisation already, through positive introductions to various people and children, the use of daily household items ie. hoovers, exposure to the outside world, and exposure to thunder/fireworks etc through audio tapes. Your puppy should be having these experiences (and more) before you even take him home.
BUT……you have a window of time once your pup is home, a small window of time, in which you need to expose your puppy to a vast array of things. This window is small, largely due to you not acquiring your puppy until he is at least 8 weeks of age. The ‘window of socialisation’ is fast closing and you need to get your puppy out ASAP. The vaccination course is not finished at 8 weeks, however this does NOT mean your puppy should not go out. He absolutely MUST go out, just make sure you carry him and ensure he doesn’t come into contact with any unvaccinated dogs. For a comprehensive list of things your puppy should be seeing by around 12-14 weeks old, just get in touch. It’s a long list!
You need to be exposing your puppy to new environments and situations daily, around 3 times a day preferably, and you must ensure his experiences are positive ones. There is no point in taking your puppy to a busy bus or train station, shoving him towards a loud and busy train platform, and expecting to leave with your puppy having gained some amazing ‘socialisation’ whilst there. He won’t, he may have found that experience overwhelming, daunting and a bit scary! And, you may have now given him a minor fear of trains and train stations.
You MUST make sure his early experiences and exposures are POSITIVE ones. The point of socialisation is to introduce environments and objects in such a way to build positive associations, not negative ones. Ensure new experiences are gradual, make them positive and make them fun. Any signs of distress, take a step back, and gradually build up exposure to that stimuli positively.
For more information about anything I’ve discussed please do get in touch.