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  • Writer's pictureNina

Importance of Socialisation

Everyone has heard about the importance of socialising your puppy with other dogs, but that is only the tip of the iceberg when we talk about socialisation. From when your puppy comes home, they are in a stage of life called 'hazard avoidance' and this can often last until 14-16 weeks (can vary depending on the breed and circumstances). In this phase of life, your puppy is associating positive or negative emotions on different things (dogs, people, children, cars, etc) basically everything you can think of. This period of a dogs life can be so influential that if something overly negative happens it can cause an ingrained emotional response from your dog that can be life long (examples: your puppy gets attacked by another dog, child manhandling too much causing fear, you crash the car with puppy inside, etc).

Structured socialisation with only calm and positive results can prevent your dog from having overly fearful reactions and help prevent reactivity towards stimuli as they get older.

Good socialisation revolves around exposure to many different stimuli and situations in a calm and controlled way - introduce to traffic, condition the car to be a good place before you drive in it, sit and watch other dogs playing without having to interact, watch but not react to cats or other animals, busy town centres with lots of people, children running around and playing, the list goes on. The biggest factor in everything you show your puppy is: Look, sniff, hear, but don't interact and you will be rewarded! Using a mat and a sit/down cue can help your puppy see and hear and smell the world around them without getting either way over excited or nervous of what is happening.

Watching the world can help your puppy make sense of it in a calm way and allow you to reward good behaviours when they are young. Look at everything that's happening and then look back at me.

Another thing to be very aware of as your progress this training is out of control dogs or people/children that inevitably want to cuddle your puppy all day long. When your puppy is calm, don't allow people to interrupt that, if a random dog is running towards your puppy, pick them up or move away to make them feel safe. Tell people "no you can't pet them, we're currently doing training". Socialise your puppy with dogs that you know are calm and won't scare them.

- The behavioural development of your dog is more important at a young age then obedience, Dogs can learn obedience at any age but their associative learning, calm behaviours and ingrained fears start young!

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