Socialising is crucial not only for puppies but dogs of all ages & something which should be ongoing.
If you have a new puppy, dog or rescue but unsure how to do this correctly, & scared they will not become well adjusted, friendly & confident, please read on.
Family – build, focus, engagement, routines, confidence & trust. This can be achieved by teaching basic manners manners, exercises/tricks & independence on their own. Do all these in different areas of your home &, if you have one, in the garden. When your dog learns to trust & feel safe with you, this will help their confidence when you take them out.
Puzzles - introducing canine enrichment, hiding food & toys for them to find will help, not only keep them happily busy & use up energy, but is great for their development.
Handling – it is crucial your dog is happy & comfortable to be touched all over their body for future visits to the vet, groomers & even when the time comes to meet new people. Spend time moving your hands over their body, checking their ears, mouth, eyes, tail, paws etc. Introduce brushes, combs, hairdryers, & even nail clippers so they happily accept being handled & get used to being groomed.
Dress up – hats, umbrellas, glasses, masks, wigs, coats etc., anything you can find which they may come across outdoors. Dogs have no idea what these are so teach them they are nothing to worry about. When introducing, make them fun, happy & positive experiences.
Noises & smells – dogs can be wary of noises, such as thunderstorms, fire engines, police sirens, loud traffic, fireworks, dogs barking, groups of people laughing etc. On YouTube you can find videos of a variety of noises, so start playing them (quietly to begin with) so they get used to hearing them. Yet again, always make a positive experience for them. Simple things like changing your deodorant, body spray & perfume will help them get used to other scents/smells.
Getting ready for the outside world - with puppies, before you can take them out on walks, start helping them prepare indoors. Introduce their collar/harness & lead, letting them walk around with them on. Always make this a positive experience by using lots of praise/play/rewards. If they are hesitant at having them on, then go slow with the process & never force them. If your puppy has a collar, please always remove this when they are alone (even for a short period of time) to avoid any chance of them getting it caught on something.
Go easy on their joints - it's tempting to take your puppy or dog on lots of trips & exciting days out but please do not overdo it. With puppies, & dogs who are still growing, their joints are very fragile & need protecting to avoid any damage in later life. The general advice is to stick to 5 minutes walking for each month old. Over exposure to the outside world can also over stimulate dogs of all ages, resulting in them not being able to settle down when they get home.
Adventures – make the most of them, don’t just walk! Stop regularly letting them sniff, check out bins, gates, traffic, cyclists etc & allow them to investigate the outside world. Be fun, engaging & interesting with your them. Practice simple manners, exercises & focus. Vary your routes as much as you can. If you have a new puppy who is not fully vaccinated you can still take them out, just keep them safe by carrying them, letting them see & smell new things.
People & dogs – take your dog around other people/dogs so they can see, smell & hear them (always making a great experience!). While they are at a distance, practice getting their focus & engagement, practice basic exercises & have fun playing with them, always praising/rewarding. Doing this will teach them, no matter what distractions are around, you are the most exciting person they are happy to stay with & listen to. This will also help teach them manners such as not to pull towards people/other dogs, which can create future problems.
Quality not quantitiy - when taking your dog out & about, avoid letting them meet everyone person/dog they come across &, when they do say hi, try to keep the experience nice & calm. It is far better dogs meets less people/dogs correctly than lots incorrectly, which could end in a bad experience for them & affect their confidence. . Enjoy – treasure spending time with your dog with play times, cuddles & teaching them, create an amazing bond between you which will last forever.