The Importance of Socialising Your Puppy

The Importance of Socialising Your Puppy

Your puppy’s experiences within the first year are incredibly important to his social and mental wellbeing, and can make all the difference to his personality and temperament when he becomes an adult. Taking the time to allow your puppy to socialise and explore the world around him can lead to a much happier, well-adjusted dog, who will love meeting new people and discovering new places.

A puppy who doesn’t socialise may find the world a scary and intimidating place, and will likely grow up to be worried and anxious. This puppy may develop behavioural issues in adulthood; therefore it is critical socialisation becomes a key element in raising your pup!

Dawn Greer, Professional Dog Trainer

Dawn has been working and training with dogs for over 15 years. She has a Certificate in Canine Studies and a Certificate in Canine Behaviour & Psychology.

She is an advocate for the use of positive reward-based training methods, and enjoys watching how each dog learns, what motivates them, and how they react to challenges. She participates in many online training courses with trainers across the globe about various aspects of play training, obedience, and agility.

She currently shares her life with her dogs ranging in age from 16 years to 12 weeks. She has represented Ireland at the World Agility Open and the European Open Championships and has also represented Ireland in the International Agility Event at Crufts. She is a spokesperson for the Petmania Puppy Club where she has demonstrated her knowledge and expertise in obedience training young puppies.

Key Periods in Socialising your Puppy

The key period of socialisation in your puppy is up to twelve weeks old. The younger your puppy is, the easier it will be to socialise them, as they may soon grow cautious of new experiences once they get older. Your puppy will be curious and eager to explore, so it is essential to try and get them outside and experience as many different sights, sounds and smells as possible!

Your puppy should not go out and meet dogs if they have not completed their vaccination schedule, but this doesn’t mean they can’t venture out into new environments. I think picking your puppy up in your arms and heading off outside is a great way for them to not only see and smell different places, but also hear new things, such as busy traffic or the sound of a lawn mower.

Socialising isn’t just about meeting new people and new dogs; it’s about getting your little pup used to the world around them. Different smells, sounds and even textures to walk on all help your puppy understand there is no need to be afraid of new environments.

If your puppy will need grooming in his life, I would recommend you introduce grooming tools such as nail clippers or brushes as early as possible to get him accustomed to having his coat touched and brushed. Dogs who have never experienced the sensation of a haircut or nail trimming may get very nervous when near any grooming tools such as a scissors, so it’s essential you introduce these things early in his life.

young black puppy in the arms of his owner out socialising and exploring the world

Avoid Negative Experiences

Bad experiences can leave a much bigger impact on your puppy than you may realise, so it’s important to exercise caution when introducing your young pup to new people, places or things. Take them outside for short periods at first, and gradually build up the time they can spend outside in the world. Your puppy may find the sound of noisy cars overwhelming at first but he will soon not take any notice!

Once your puppy is fully vaccinated, you can begin introducing him to new dogs. Always double check that any new dogs you introduce your puppy to are friendly around puppies. Some older or bigger dogs simply do not like puppies and could lash out if your puppy is jumping on them or irritating them in any way. This could result in your puppy being fearful or angry towards other dogs, so it’s imperative you avoid this happening by making sure any dogs they meet are friendly.

small girl child laughing and smiling with two cute labrador puppies beside her

Meeting New People

If you don’t have any children, I would recommend you try and make sure your puppy goes out and meets a variety of children of different ages, such as kids down the road or younger family members.

Young children behave differently to adults, so it’s important your puppy meets them while he is young so he is less likely to be worried or anxious around them as an adult.

As with other dogs, ensure any children you introduce your puppy to understands not to irritate or harm the puppy in any way, and always keep sessions supervised.

If your household does have children, don’t let them surround the puppy or force the puppy to interact with them until he is ready. When it’s time to introduce the children to the puppy, have them give him a treat from their hand. This will help build trust between dog and child. Then, take the focus away from the puppy and give the children a different activity to do. This process helps the puppy get to know the children at a pace he is comfortable with.

If you live on your own, it is a good idea to introduce your puppy to members of the opposite sex. Men are generally taller and have deeper voices than women, which could make some dogs nervous. Introducing your puppy to different things can make for a much more confident and happier adult dog.

It is not a good idea to pick your puppy up and pass them to someone or pull your puppy towards them. Your puppy should approach people on their own terms and in their own time, and pull back if they want.

As always, keep everything positive. Positive experiences are key when socialising your puppy.

Watch Out For:

An puppy that is anxious or afraid will avoid eye contact, have their tail hanging low, pull their ears back and stay away or retreat. Licking their lips or yawning are also indicators of nervousness or fear. Always ensure you are paying attention to these signs and take action as soon as possible by removing your puppy from the situation that is causing them distress.

A happy, calm puppy will stand up straight with their tail wagging and will be eager to explore around them.


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