Your puppy’s early experiences will shape his personality, how he sees the world around him and how he deals with stress. A well thought out socialisation plan can help you raise a dog that you can take anywhere with anyone with a happy wag of his tail.
Poor socialisation can leave you with a fearful, reactive dog that can’t cope with being outside of his home environment. Give your puppy the best possible start by making sure he has early, safe and POSITIVE experiences with a variety of people, places, surfaces, sounds and situations.
Never force your puppy to approach anyone or anything, let him explore on his terms, quietly praising and encouraging him when he boldly approaches by himself. NEVER coddle your puppy, if your puppy shows signs of fear or nervousness, the worst thing you can do is console him which he’ll take as praise for his undesirable behaviour. When your puppy seems uncertain take him away from the thing that is causing him stress until you have a happy puppy again. Then encourage him to approach at his own rate again, such as having the ‘scary’ person kneel to the side and not look at the puppy while holding out a treat for him.
Be aware of the reaction of people and pets around your puppy. Socialisation should be a positive experience for everyone involved. Keep in mind you’re not trying to overwhelm your puppy with new experiences - quantity is not better than quality!
Make sure your puppy is confident, well rested and having a good time whenever you introduce him to something new. Puppies get tired very quickly, and most importantly give your dog lots of downtime after a new experience to recuperate and reflect on what he’s just done.
Children under 5
Children 5 – 10
Children 10 – 15
Checking eyes, ears, paws, tail, teeth
Up on table
Taking photo with flash
Rolling onto side/back
Walking with pram
Dropping pans/sudden noises