Socialising Your Dog or Puppy
Ongoing socialising is extremely important to prevent behaviour problems. Socialisation is especially important before the age of 6 months, but should also be throughout your dog’s lifetime.
Gentle socialisation plays a huge role in preventing aggression and fearful behaviour. Lack of socialisation can lead to hyperactive behaviour, barking, shyness and aggression.
The younger you begin socialising your dog, the better, but all dogs can be gradually brought into new and even initially fearful situations and learn to enjoy them.
Socialisation is a lifelong process. For example, if your dog does not see any dogs for months or years at a time, you would expect his behaviour to change around them when he does finally see them again.
How to expose your dog to something new or something he is wary of:
- Make sure that you remain calm and up-beat and keep his leash loose, if he is wearing one.
- Expose him gradually to what he is fearful of, never forcing him. Allow him to retreat if he wants too.
- Reward him for being calm or for exploring the new situation.
Try to expose your dog regularly to all of the things and situations you would like him to be able to cope with calmly in the future. Progress slowly enough so that it is easy for your dog to enjoy the sessions. It will seem like a lot of time to spend at first, but it will pay off with a well-behaved dog!
Scenarios for socialising your dog
Below are some examples, but is not an exhaustive list:
- Meeting new people of all types, including children, men, crowds, people wearing hats, disabled, etc.
- Meeting new dogs (due to disease risk, do not bring your pup to areas with lots of dogs until after 4 months). Positive training classes are great for this.
- Exposure to other pets such as cats, horses, birds
- Teach him to enjoy his crate
- travelling in the car (be sure to restrain him using a secured crate or dog seat-belt for safety).
- Being held, touched all over and in different ways, being bathed and groomed.
- Visiting the vet’s surgery, groomer, daycare, boarding kennel.
- Exposure to loud noises and strange objects (ex. umbrella opening).
- Exposure to traffic, motorcycles, bicycles, skateboards, joggers.
- Getting him used to being left alone for a few hours at a time.