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Puppy socialisation is helping your little mate feel comfortable as a pet within a society that includes a huge mix of people, environments, buildings, sights, noises, smells, dogs and other animals. Many behavioural problems in dogs are due to inappropriate or insufficient socialisation. So get puppy out there in the big wide world!
At what age should I start socialising my puppy?
The most important time is in a puppy’s first 3 months of life. You need to expose them to the people, animals, plants, objects and natural phenomena they are likely to encounter throughout their life. This includes things like the sight and sound of trains, garbage trucks, schoolyards of screaming children, crowds, cats, crying infants and bad weather.
After 12 weeks of age, dogs become much more cautious of anything they haven’t yet encountered. Once they reach 18 weeks, it’s very difficult to teach a dog to like something new, or help them become comfortable with something they find frightening.
A great way to socialise your puppy with other dogs and people is through puppy school. In addition to your pup making new friends, you can learn about puppy health, behavioural and obedience training methods as well as how to troubleshoot any existing problems. Many veterinary clinics run puppy schools.
Curbing aggressive behaviour
Socialising plays a big role in reducing aggressive behaviour in dogs. Aggression can happen for many reasons including dominance, possessiveness and fear. But it’s almost always linked to some kind of anxiety. Gradually exposing your puppy to a variety of settings, people and animals makes them learn to feel safe.
Avoiding diseases before vaccination
Some of your puppy’s socialising is going to be happening before they are fully vaccinated. Until they have had all their vaccines, try to avoid areas like dog parks where they might be at risk of contracting diseases such as canine parvovirus.
Although it might not always be possible, carry your puppy around to experience new places. This keeps them off the ground in areas where other dogs might have visited.