Socialising Your Puppy
The Link between Social Skills and Aggressive Behaviour
Indicators of Poor Social Skills
Dogs that display these behaviors are often chastised for acting out, but their owner may actually be to blame. After all, if the owner didn’t take the time to teach their dog how to socialise before they reached adulthood, the animal won’t be properly prepared to deal with meeting anyone new.
The Sensitive Period
Every dog goes through what’s sometimes referred to as a sensitive period. Human babies and toddlers have a similar experience. During this time, you have the opportunity to help them learn how to interact with the world in positive ways. They basically make a mental catalog of everything they encounter in their sensitive period, including:
- Situations that feel safe
In other words, if you allow them to meet other puppies and new people at this point in their life, they’re much more likely to be open and accepting. As a result, the dog will learn to associate these encounters with pleasant memories. This dramatically reduces the risk of them acting in a fearful or aggressive manner in the future.
Socialising with Other Puppies
One major perk of enrolling your young dog in a training class is that they will spend time with other puppies. It’s necessary to begin teaching dogs how to socialise and be obedient shortly after they are weaned from their mother. This is the reason West Coast Pet Care Centre offers classes for dogs as young as eight weeks.
Puppy socialising needs to be done carefully to avoid bad situations and the potential for health risks. Therefore, be sure to screen any animals you’ll be introducing them to outside of a classroom environment for good health and behavior. Although it’s wise to let them meet as many new animals as possible during the first few months of their life, you shouldn’t put them in danger by going to a dog park before they’ve been fully vaccinated.
Let puppies experience each other through play and sniffing. A little exuberance is to be expected, but remain aware of the situation at all times so that you can intervene if needed.
Puppy Socialisation with Common Objects and Places
When you think of your puppy’s need to develop social skills, you most likely envision them meeting a variety of people and animals. This is a major part of the process, but you also need to help them encounter a diverse list of other things. A few of the many objects and places all puppies should meet during their sensitive period include:
- Various surfaces
- Car rides
- Street noise
- Kitchen noises
- Police sirens
- Beeping noises
- Door knocking
One of the most common dog phobias is of any loud, cracking sound such as fireworks or gunshots. Both of these sounds can be downloaded for free off the Internet, and you could slowly introduce them in the background during pleasant encounters to help minimize or eliminate this fear.
Building Social Skills with Humans
If your young dog cowers when they meet new people or see you wearing something unusual, including hats, you can solve this problem. Instead of forcing them to interact, ask the person to sit down calmly and ignore the dog. Over time, your puppy’s curiosity will overwhelm their cautiousness, and they will begin to explore the area.
When exploration begins, the new person needs to avoid looking at the dog. At the same time, you should quietly and softly praise your canine companion, but don’t use food as a lure. Instead, allow the animal to move at his or her own pace.
If your young pet chooses to sit or lie down by the new person, they can then offer a treat as a reward. As long as the dog isn’t spooked away by this action, a quick scratch behind the ears can come next to help reaffirm the positive experience.
Over time, most dogs who are socialised in this way will begin to lose their fear of meeting people. It’s important to note that some animals remain shy throughout their entire life, so it may be necessary to continue introducing new people in a slow, controlled manner.
Is There a Time Limit for Proper Puppy Socialising?
It’s not true that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks. Teaching an older dog how to socialise is another matter. Expert opinions vary, and all puppies are slightly different from each other. However, if you’re looking for a good estimate, it’s critical to help young dogs develop their social skills by the time they turn 12 weeks old.
In most cases, 12 to 16 weeks is the cutoff mark. After this point, it will be much harder to teach a dog how to properly interact with new people and animals. In other words, if you want to avoid issues such as growling, lunging and cowering, you must take a very active role in building your puppy’s social skills during the first three to four months of their life.
The Importance of Puppy Classes
As previously mentioned, classes give puppies an opportunity to have positive social interactions with a variety of people and dogs. Dogs absorb information very quickly at a young age, and classes make it much easier to give them the dedicated attention that will achieve the best results.
Another factor to consider is that puppies are much like toddlers in the sense that they may actually listen more closely to instructions given from someone who isn’t their owner. This is because they associate you with playtime, and it may be difficult for them to focus on initial obedience techniques when they’re with you.
Fear not; the skills they pick up in class will be able to transfer nicely to their home environment as long as you continue using the same words, hand motions and reward system. We will provide you with all of this information to make the transition as smooth as possible.
Puppy Socialising versus Training
Our Perth school for puppies offers a one-stop solution for your dog’s socialisation and obedience needs. Because puppies have a limited window of time to learn critical social skills, we heavily suggest starting with our Primary Junior course. This is ideal for puppies between the ages of eight and 16 weeks, and it helps them socialise.
We begin helping puppies with necessary skills at a young age such as becoming potty trained, but advanced tricks aren’t introduced until a dog is at least four months old. If your adult dog knows how to socialise but still needs to learn better obedience and some fun tricks, we can easily work with them. Unfortunately, a lack of socialising is much harder to overcome later on.
To reiterate, your dog can learn new tricks at any age during its life. Therefore, it’s in everyone’s best interests to focus more on social skills when they’re young. This will enable both of you to have a more relaxed and fun life together.
How to Start Socialising and Teaching Your Dog in the Perth Area
Our puppy training and socialising classes will allow you to get the best out of your dog without having to spend several hours per day focusing solely on teaching them how to behave. Of course, you will need to use the techniques we give you in class to receive the best results, but we will offer the necessary instructions to get you and your new furry companion off on the right foot!
Sign up for the class that’s right for your puppy’s age and development level:
- Primary Junior for puppies between eight and 16 weeks
- Primary Senior for puppies between four and six months
- Primary Residential for puppies between four and six months