Just like a human baby, the experiences and memories made with your dog during their early years will help to shape the adult dog this puppy will become. Socialisation teaches your puppy about the world in which they live.
Puppies who grow up without being socialised are sadly more likely to suffer from anxiety and fear. These psychological issues can lead to aggressive behaviour towards people or other dogs, destructive tendencies and excessive barking while you’re away.
A puppy’s brain develops rapidly, so getting your puppy used to everyday experiences during the first months of their life is crucial. Puppies are naturally cautious of new situations, so ensuring these experiences are positive and calm is essential. Use plenty of praise and treats to reward and reinforce good behaviours.
Here is our list of essential tips to help raise a happy, well-behaved dog:
- Puppies should observe a variety of other animals but should be kept under control to deter them from learning bad habits, such as chasing.
- Alongside meeting different animals, puppies need to experience a range of sights, sounds and scents. Check that your puppy is steadily becoming accustomed to car travel, traffic, towns and the countryside too.
- Most people enjoy meeting a puppy, and most puppies enjoy meeting a new human. However, your puppy mustn’t be overwhelmed too quickly, so ask people to crouch down when they meet them.
- Avoid passing or dragging your puppy towards perceived strangers. Allow the approach to happen in their own time. Imagine how it feels to be tiny, vulnerable and inexperienced, think ‘puppy’, and try to make sure your dog is happy and not feeling bewildered.
- Pay attention to your dog’s body language. A puppy filled with anxiety will avoid eye contact, hold their tail between their legs, put their ears back, and try to appear smaller. They may also yawn or lick their lips. Act as soon as possible in these situations and remove your puppy from the cause of worry.
- A confident, relaxed and happy puppy will be keen to investigate situations. They will stand up straight with their tail (or their whole body) wagging!
A well socialised dog is a happy dog, and it’s essential to teach them these skills early on.