As new members of the world, there are a lot of lessons that puppies need to learn. Feeling confident and comfortable with a wide range of people, pets and places is at the top of the list and this all falls under the umbrella of ‘socialisation’. Many dog owners have heard of socialisation, but most don’t understand the importance of it and many don’t know how to socialize their puppy the right way. The goal here is to let the young puppy positively experience as many situations as possible to boost their confidence and prepare them for the big world around him/her.

The first 20 weeks of a puppy’s life are the most critical time for socialization. During this time dogs are more accepting of new environments and experiences. An adult dog’s behaviour is a result of his/her experiences as a puppy as well as their genetics.

Socialisation starts from the moment you collect your puppy. Each new experience will help them understand what to make of the world around them. Encountering every new smell, sound and sight in a positive way will build their confidence and let them grow into well-adapted dogs.

It is very important that you don’t allow your puppy to interact with strange dogs before they have completed their 12- week vaccinations. A great solution is to enrol them in puppy pre-school which provides a safe environment for your pet to encounter other humans and puppies and learn some basic cues. Before it is safe to take your dog outside, you can still encourage the socialisation process at home. In this period, you can introduce your pet to things such as appliances (especially the noisy vacuum cleaner), new materials under their paws and different scents.

Keep in mind:
• exposure alone is not socialisation.
• your dog is the one who determines if an interaction or experience was positive. Not you or anyone else.
• Never force your dog into an interaction.

Your young puppy must be prepared for the world in order to react appropriately to it. The more you can desensitise your puppy to his environment, the less likely he will become reactive later.