Puppy school…………..Puppy socialisation
Yes, it is important to socialise your pup, however it is also important to manage the interactions to meet up with other pups and adult dogs. Why?
Puppies are like kids if we didn’t lay out the rules they would be feral. Dogs have no natural self control, so it is our job to teach them the house rules. The reason dogs have become so popular in our lives is because they are smart, they quickly learn commands and behaviours that we want either in our homes or for work purposes. Dogs are adaptable and dogs love to please, all they want is your love and kindness in return.
So we need to lay down those rules when meeting other dogs because if we don’t then they will get a lot of negative experiences which could lead to anxieties and aggression in adulthood.
Short meet and greets are ideal before they get the chance to jump all over the other dog, as short as a nose meet, turn around and walk them away. This makes the interaction a positive one. If it is ok then you can walk them up to the dog again and have a quick sniff but before they get a chance to jump all over the dog turn around and walk them away. You are teaching your pup some manners on greeting and this also means the recipient doesn’t give off a negative response.
It is good for them to play with other pups too but like kids they can get too over the top, boisterous, rough and that’s when play needs to be nipped in the bud. It is important for you to learn how dogs play and how they communicate you will be able to tell the difference between consenting play or unhappy play.
Some people will think all this is a bit much surely we should let dogs be dogs. Well we can but not all dogs in the park have had great experiences with other dogs, they maybe less confident and anxious around dogs it doesn’t know. If we as owners can see the signs, then we can make sure play that is not consenting from the other dog is nipped in the bud and we are helping pup to learn positively rather than them having continuous bad experiences. As a result we can have a dog happy to meet other dogs in the park rather than a stressed anxious dog that could turn to aggression.
Socialisation isn’t all about meeting and mixing with other dogs either, it is about learning about the world. Let your pup watch the world go by with you. Sit in the park with your dog and watch people, dogs, squirrels, kids etc walk by, if you are relaxed then they will be too, keep them close and reassure them, stroke them, cuddle them. Get them used to traffic noise, kids screaming, hustle and bustle of life outside the house. Don’t force them to do things they are unsure of or scared of, consider it a process and break it down into steps if they are scared. Forcing a dog to do something will only increase their anxieties. Now, if you were scared of spiders and I tried to force you to put your hand in a box of spiders, would that get you over your fear or would you become hysterical? Dogs are no different.
There are some great books out there to help you, one in particular is ‘Easy peasy puppy squeezy’ by Steve Mann. Always look for positive reward based books and the people who write them are qualified to do so.
So good luck with pup and trust me you will have a lot of ups and downs, highs and lows. You will get annoyed, frustrated and you will wonder why you did this. Puppies are looking to you for their guidance, you are now their mum. The good news is they grow up quicker and learn quicker than kids. What you put into their training the first 18 months will determine what sort of adult they will become, loads of people ask me how come my dogs are so calm and well behaved, well it is the time and effort I put into their training. I trained them everyday, sometimes only for 10 mins for the first year, then incorporated training into their walks and play several times a week for the second year. Queenie is nearly 9 and we still do training together because she loves it, it stimulates her and makes her happy.