Being a first time puppy parent can be a wonderful time in your life and seeing your new puppy fills your heart with love. Then comes the reality of how to raise your puppy well and make the right decisions.
What is the best food, dog bed, toys, leash, the list can be long but there is one thing I think can get overlooked unintentionally by a new puppy parent. The answer is socialising their puppy to their life and the outside world.
It can get further complicated if you have never had a puppy, your last dog was elderly, or had a puppy when you were a child but not as an adult.
Furthermore, add in everyone’s opinion on this topic, as well as researching socialisation yourself, and you may feel stressed that it will not go well.
I wanted to write a post on this topic to make it simple and actionable as this amazing relationship you have started with your puppy deserves to flourish together from the very beginning. I have had a number of calls from people who have acquired a puppy during the Covid-19 pandemic who are first time puppy owners
What is Socialisation?
To have a better chance with socialising your puppy means understanding what the word actually means. Socialisation is: teaching a puppy to be comfortable with a variety of places, situations, people, and sounds. Socialisation is essential to having a stable and reliable dog and needs to be a priority in training your dog from day one.
Now that you know what socialisation actually is then you can start looking at your family, friends, even objects like the vacuum in your house, and figure out how to incorporate them in your puppy’s world. Remember you want to keep socialising your puppy everyday.
Why You Should Socialise Your Puppy
It may seem like an obvious answer to have a well adjusted, confident, and stable puppy then socialising he/she from the beginning is why you must do it.
However, the main reason is if you do not take the time right from the start to socialise them, then they will have no curiosity for new things, or be able to adapt well to different environments.
Instead you will have a puppy that will be nervous, stressed out, and have fear of everything rather than be open to new things, people and experiences.
You may think a one time exposure to something new will do the job but it has to be a continuous part for you and your puppy’s in everyday activities. It may seem like a lot to incorporate in your life and I understand that but it must happen that fits your lifestyle and schedule too.
However, if you do not start socialising from day one then your puppy will have more concerns and lack confidence for the rest of there life. Therefore, you will have struggles doing the basic things in life (new things or people come in your life) or even going on a walk.
If you want to have a social life, have parties at your house, take your puppy on a weekend trip to a new location, or have puppy friends then socialising your puppy should be a priority.
Furthermore, puppies that are not socialised well can grow up to be fearful and not confident to handle new things in their life. Therefore, that can limit what you and your puppy can do and make things stressful rather then enjoyable.
I want you and your puppy to have a chance to have a well adjusted life and socialisation will make a huge difference in your relationship for the better.
How Fear Imprint Periods Can Impact Socialising Your Puppy
One other area I wanted to share with you about socialisation and your puppy is understanding Fear Imprint Periods. You may be thinking what are fear periods? I remember trying to explain them to my friend when she got her new puppy recently. She is someone who has had dogs before but never knew about fear periods.
What is a Fear Imprint Period? It is a period between 8 to 12 weeks and then again between 5 and 14 months of age in which your puppy may become especially fearful or nervous.
During these periods it is essential to make sure your puppy has positive experiences, because if they have a scary one that can affect them for the rest of their life. Just one bad experience can have long term effects in their life with you and the outside world.
Having a puppy whether you are a seasoned or new puppy parent does not matter. Socialisation needs to happen but the time, exposure, and things could show you a different reaction as each puppy is different.
Therefore, you will be able to help your puppy thrive during the Imprint Fear Period by reassuring and keeping things positive for them
Simple Tips to Socialise Your Puppy
There are ways to get your dog socialised but in a safe and easy way. I wanted to share some simple tips to help make this process easier for you and your puppy. Dog training is very important especially with a puppy but it does not need to be complicated.
Always have treats (Waggs and Bakers as they are easy to break up and give to your puppy) and to reward your puppy for doing well with new things, people, other puppies.
Keep those treats in a treat bag so you can reach them quickly as good behaviour can happen at any moment.
Plan ahead with your puppy and always remember it is okay to leave if your puppy cannot handle the situation.
You can take your puppy out but just not let them touch the ground yet (if they are under 4 months old). Dog strollers could be helpful to secure your puppy but still allow socialisation to occur safely.
Bonus Tip: You could use a backpack/carrier if your puppy can fit into one as another way to take your puppy out and socialize.
Have friends, family, kids, come over to your house. Space out the time they come.
Learn dog language so you can understand your puppy and know when they are getting stressed and how to help them.
If you are struggling or not sure how to socialise your puppy find a professional dog trainer as well as go to puppy classes.
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I hope these tips as well as this blog post are helpful for you and your puppy. If you need any more advice feel free to drop me an email at: