We are all still learning so much about the development process of our dogs, but we do know plenty to help us to enable our puppies to become well rounded, confident adult dogs.
We all tend to call this process ‘Socialisation’ but infact there is more to it than just introducing your dog to whole lot of other dogs that have there own confidence levels and hang ups. Socialising isn’t about making a nervous dog of any age endure the unwelcome attention of other dogs.
So what is ‘socialisation’
Well all animals like us humans go through an automatic check list when we are introduced to something new although saying that us humans may have a slightly different order of significants. When a puppy sees something new they are sometimes startled, and show some interest, they then need to decide is it dangerous? Is it safe? Can it be played with? More to the point Can it be eaten? Being able to discover these things in a safe and unpressured environment, with a positive outcome will put your puppy on its first steps to becoming a well balanced Adult dog.
From 8 weeks old or so when you bring your puppy home until it’s teenage months your dogs social needs should be a high priority, making sure they continue to be exposed to positive new experiences, otherwise they will struggle in future to deal with changes. Which could lead to your dog being fearful or stressed when maybe new people come through your door or other additions are added to your family. If puppies aren’t used to meeting new dogs and people they will never learn how to communicate or behave in this situation, which then could lead into a negative experience which could lead to aggression. So your new sweet puppy might start to bark or snap at strangers or other dogs.
Try to make all new experiences for your puppy a positive experience and always praise the correct behaviour. Reassurances in a negative experience can have a bad affect on your puppy and should be avoided at all times, if you find yourself and your puppy heading towards a bad or negative experience you should remove yourselves away from that situation and try to create a new positive experience for your puppy. If your puppy meets an aggressive dog they will quickly learn that dogs are dangerous. Even if the pup manages to back out of the situation safely it will remember that other dogs snap at you and it will start to undo all the positive work you have done. Protecting your dog from negative experiences is just as important as creating positive experiences. A puppy that lacks appropriate socialising is one of the biggest causes of adult fearfulness and nervousness.
We recommend that you look at a good training class which emphasises the importance of positive first experiences and aims to make sure the puppy stays safe.