Why Is Puppy Socialisation So Important?

Puppies have what is called a ‘critical socialisation period’ between approximately 3 -17 weeks of age. The puppy’s experiences during this critical period of learning and development can influence and shape their behaviour well into adulthood. Providing plenty of opportunities for socialisation and exposure to different environments during this time can help to ensure your puppy grows into a well-adjusted adult that relates well to other dogs, other animals and people.

Socialising a pup must be done in a safe, social and positive environment at a reputable puppy school. Puppy school is generally aimed at pups between 11-18 weeks of age to coincide with the puppy critical socialization period whilst also ensuring that the pups are sufficiently vaccinated prior to being exposed to other puppies and dogs.

A Positive Experience

Puppy socialization is more than just a fun way to show off your adorable new puppy. Helping your puppy have a variety of positive experiences out in the real world ensures that he has the behavioural tools to happily adjust to whatever life throws at him.

Well-socialized puppies grow into confident, happy dogs that are able to adapt to different social environments. Aside from potty training, socialization might be the most important thing you and your new pup do together!

Safety First

It’s never a good idea to take your puppy out before he or she has been fully vaccinated. Because a puppy’s vaccination ramp-up happens over the course of weeks, veterinarians caution pet parents to keep their puppies home until their series is complete to prevent accidental exposure to infectious diseases like parvo virus.

Make sure that the training school you attend puppy classes at is reputable and ask your veterinarian for referrals. You can also ask for referrals in WhatsApp or Facebook groups.

Puppy socialization should always be undertaken in a way that prevents overstimulation, fearfulness or withdrawal. Forcing pups out of their comfort zone in the name of socialization is entirely different from allowing them the choice to have new experiences.

Always socialise or train your pup using positive reinforcement methods with treats and rewards and never ever punish your puppy.

Now that you know what not to do, here are some tips for successful puppy socialization.

  • Puppy socialization classes are a fantastic way to kickstart the process. Look for classes run by knowledgeable professionals.
  • Check into the class size and curriculum before signing up; classes with too many dogs or those that have more playtime than learning can do more harm than good.
  • Well-run classes allow time for important dog-dog play, which improves canine communication, as well as brief manners lessons and a pet parent Q&A.
  • Making sure that your pup is comfortable at the vet is also important. Your pup has a lifetime of veterinary check-ups ahead of him, and you can start to make the experience stress-free by doing fun drop-ins. Bring a pocket full of treats and ask if you can spend a few minutes exploring an exam room.

Thorough puppy socialization helps your puppy adapt to our world in a way that pays off for the rest of his life. Though it’s a critical step in your puppy’s development, it’s a fun and rewarding process that will strengthen your growing bond with your new best friend and lead to a well-adjusted companion.

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