Socialisation is an essential part of a young puppy’s life. During their first few months, they will learn to communicate and get along with people and other animals. Each interaction will shape their behaviour and responses to the world around them. Familiarising them with different environments teaches them to adapt to diverse surroundings, and introducing them to many sights, sounds, and smells will reduce the likelihood of fear or anxiety in new situations, which is crucial to prevent them from developing phobias later in life. A well-socialised puppy will grow into a happy, resilient, confident, well-behaved adult dog.
Navigating socialisation before they’re fully vaccinated
Puppy socialisation begins before you take them home. They start learning important social skills by interacting with their mum and litter mates from three weeks old. Responsible breeders will also help socialise puppies before they go to their new home. They’ll introduce them to various people and expose them to everyday sounds, different surfaces, and textures.
Once you welcome your puppy home at around eight weeks, it’s your turn to continue their socialisation. It’s very important to avoid taking them to dog parks or other places where dogs congregate until they’ve completed their vaccination schedule. These places can be a breeding ground for diseases like parvovirus, canine cough, and parasites.
But the good news is you can start socialising your puppy at home before they’re fully vaccinated; you just need to be safe and sensible about it. Once they’re fully vaccinated, they can explore the world outside of your house and interact with other dogs; however, in the meantime, there’s plenty of socialisation you can do at home, such as:
- Introduce them to people of all ages: adults, kids and other pets living in the house.
- Ask your visitors to pat your puppy all over their body so they can start getting used to being handed by different people. This will help them not fear being handled by a vet or dog groomer.
- Expose them to the noises of different household appliances, such as the vacuum cleaner and dishwasher.
- Encourage them to play on different surfaces, like grass, carpet, and floorboards.
When introducing your puppy to new experiences, sights, and sounds, make sure the interaction is positive and keep the duration short, so they don’t become overwhelmed or frightened.