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Puppy Socialising

Very young puppies have to be socialised - this is not new news, rather scientific proven theory that has been extensively studied, documented and statistically repeated. read more

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Puppy Socialising

Puppy Socialising

The most critical time in a puppy's life is between 4 - 16 weeks. It is during this time the most rapid learning occurs - in addition, any experience that takes place within this short window of time will have the greatest impact on future social behaviour.

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Training and Socialisation

Very young puppies have to be socialised - this is not new news, rather scientific proven theory that has been extensively studied, documented and statistically repeated.

Furthermore, the definition of socialisation does not include the familiar, day-to-day comings and goings within a household. Although the owner may have many other pets, children, visitors and rotating activity, a dog that does not experience life outside of their home environment will be stressed once removed from it.

It goes without saying that a fearful dog, no matter how happy, calm and obedient at home, is an unpredictable dog. Socialisation in the intended sense of the word is the opportunity to be exposed to as many people, animals, vehicles, environments, ground surfaces, events, sights, sounds, smells... the list is literally endless, because once the owner gets through a social schedule within the first level, there are countless sub-levels.

For example, consider the category of People alone: adults, babies, toddlers, children, the elderly; people in different clothing, with different ethnic backgrounds, hairstyles, sizes and genders; babies in prams; seniors with Zimmer frames; people who shriek; people who lunge; people who jog, rollerblade and ride bikes... the list is exhausting.

There is no such thing as over-socialisation. However, there is such a consequence as irresponsible and damaging socialisation. There are two extremes: one, the obvious, is unsupervised socialisation, where a puppy has unexpected encounters from which they can not cope. Dogs in uncomfortable situations will rely on their survival instincts, and in a puppy it may be considered "pretty cute", but in an adult dog, it's downright dangerous, not to mention cruel. The second, almost as damaging is coddling a frightened puppy. What the owner is actually doing when they do this is reinforcing the fear - telling the puppy that there is reason to be afraid, so be afraid.

The proper way to socialise, in a condensed overview, is to casually introduce the puppy to any new experience - whatever that may be, and reward them for being alert and curious with your voice, touch or small treat. If a puppy is frightened by the experience, calmly leave the scene without reaction.

The more positive experiences your adult dog has from which to draw, the more resilient the character. With this said, consider that you may have control of how positive an experience is by how you personally reward your puppy, but it is also important to have the puppy rewarded by outside forces as well.

For instance, if the puppy meets a new person, they can be in charge of rewarding the puppy; if the puppy is introduced to a new environment, the reward might be an opportunity to explore; if the puppy meets a kitten, the reward might be a sniff, and so on. In short, be creative and turn a neutral experience into a positive one, as well as introduce pure positive experiences.

It can not be repeated enough - the greatest impact on future social behaviour will be made by any experience during your puppy's first 4 - 16 weeks of life! Use this time to shape your puppy's behaviour!

Your Puppy's Social Schedule - a check list

Please consider printing the below social schedule for your puppy and tick your successes over the period of time your puppy is between 7 & 16 weeks of age. Keep in mind that this list is not exclusive.

People

People with

People wearing

People in the home

People on the move

Motor vehicles

Animals

Environments

Surfaces

Experiences

Sounds

Further considerations

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