socialising your puppy

You got through the car journey home, the first meal and the first night, their jabs are done… now it’s time to socialise your new puppy! The experiences a young dog has during the first year of their life has a big impact on their character and their temperament. So, whilst it might not be possible to introduce them to every object, person or animal, you can teach them how to accept and not fear new things and situations.

Why is socialisation important?

Socialisation is essential to making sure your puppy grows into a confident adult. By getting them used to lots of different people, environments and other dogs as possible, you’re making sure your dog takes everything in its stride.

When is the socialisation window?

The socialisation window is the time frame in which a puppy’s mental development gives them the tools to overcome fear. The window only lasts for the first 16-18 weeks of their life. It’s really important to socialise your new puppy during this time, or they might be a bit scared of certain situations in the future.

When should I start socialising my puppy?

The breeder or rescue centre will have started preparing your puppy for all the sights and sounds of a family home. When puppies are born, they’re already socialising with their mum and their littermates and starting to learn their natural behaviour and communication.

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It’s important to make sure you get your puppy from a responsible breeder or rescue centre to make sure they’re getting the best start in life. Puppy farms, pet shops and anywhere you can’t meet their mum, or the environment they were born in, are best avoided.

Once you’ve picked up your new furry friend, you need to make sure they continue to learn how to safely interact with other dogs and deal with new situations. You’ll need to wait until they’ve had their first vaccinations to take your dog out into the big wide world, but you can still introduce them to other vaccinated dogs at home. It’s also great to take them out in the car and invite lots of visitors round so your dog gets used to new environments, noises and people. It’s just as important to get them socialised with humans as it is with other dogs!

After their vaccinations, it’s time for walkies! Lots of walks in different places will get your puppy used to busy places, crowds, traffic noise and other animals too. You’ll get them used to unpredictable things and help them to grow into a confident adult. You can even use our puppy socialisation checklist to tick off each experience.

What happens if my dog wasn’t socialised?

If your dog wasn’t well socialised, you might find they have some behavioural problems like separation anxiety, fear, aggression, poor communication with other dogs, and even biting strangers or children. If you’re struggling with any of these, it’s a good idea to speak to your vet or a behaviourist to help you get your puppy back on track.

Originally published on and republished here with the kind permission of the author, Sophie Van Der Veken.

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