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Socialising your Pup – Karen Phillips

Socialisation of your new puppy is one of the most important and critical aspects of your pup’s development.  When I bring a new puppy home, socialisation is always top of my list of things to do.  Just as a child needs to spend time with other children and adults to learn how to interact with others and behave acceptably, a puppy needs to learn how to interact and behave acceptably also. 

Socialisation is not something that a puppy automatically knows how to do.  It is a learned behaviour.   The critical period for puppy socialisation is between eight weeks of age and three to four months of age.  A properly socialised puppy is a joy to have around as they are well adjusted and confident with other people and other dogs.  As an adult dog, he will be able to share your life in every way making a wonderful companion.

A dog that hasn’t been well socialised as a puppy can grow up to have undesirable behavioural problems such as fear or aggression.  There is a high probability that the dog can never be taken to places such as the local park, beach or out for walks because he won’t be equipped to cope with normal day to day situations.

All puppy socialisation should involve safe, pleasant and non-threatening experiences.  Bad experiences will only serve to cause fear and can potentially be more damaging than not socialising a puppy at all.  To ensure a safe, controlled environment there are many veterinary clinics that run Puppy Pre-School classes where a puppy can be enrolled as soon as it comes home with you.  These schools are designed to incorporate socialisation with other puppies of a similar age and to teach the owner some basic training and puppy care skills.  There are also many dog training and obedience clubs throughout the metropolitan area that have puppy classes available.

Socialising your pup should also include inviting friends over and introducing your pup to them and alternatively taking your pup to visit at friend’s houses.  If possible, get friends to bring their dogs with them to visit, however, it is extremely important to make sure that any visiting dogs are friendly with puppies and have been vaccinated.

Remember that by the time your puppy is only a few months old you will have missed this vital window of opportunity.  By investing a couple of months into socialising your puppy when it is going through that critical period you can make the difference between sharing a life of joy or a life of lost opportunity with your dog.

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