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How did you socialise your pup?(27 Posts)
I'm hopefully going to bringing home a new pup in about 8 weeks.
Been googling about socialisation.
I was wondering to what lengths you guys went to to socialise your pup?
He went everywhere with me - out to visit friends, to the pub, to restaurants etc. We'd had him a week before he went to his first party!
Once he'd had his vaccinations I took him to as many different situations I could think of from deep countryside, the beach to the city centre and into shops.
He met all sorts of people and dogs in all sorts of situations. Rode on buses, saw tractors, met horses cows and sheep as well as geese ( he's not entirely sure he likes geese - they still get a woof). Pretty much a full time job for the first month we had him.
It's paid dividends though - he's a happy confident little chap who loves people and dogs. He's great in pubs and other human social situations and is mostly a pleasure to have around.
I also went to considerable lengths - she basically came everywhere I went, including work, for weeks.
It has paid off - I can take her to a busy cafe for example and she will just crash out on the floor asleep. She is only 7 months so i am still working on her socialisation.
I read that there is a window during which a Puppy will accept new experiences. Followed by a period where unfamiliar things may cause a fearful reaction.
Apparently 'in the wild' up to a particular age a Puppy should be open to new experiences as it becomes familiar with its environment with close protection from mum / dad . After this period it makes sense that anything new is approached with caution- as if it hasn't been encountered during the previous period it may well be dangerous.
So I went to considerable lengths to socialise our Puppy. Carried him about. Visited busy streets, towns, countryside, said hi to different animals. Met children, adults, people with beards and in uniform.....
Then once he was fully vaccinated we went out and about lots.
The result is a chilled dog. Happy to be walked in countryside, or in towns. So far not nervous of anything.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
To give the flip side of the situation - I had to start socialising a rescue dog aged about a year old, long after the main age for socialisation ended at approx 16 weeks. His owners when he was a puppy had him in the house / garden 24/7 except 10 minute trips around the block.
This is socialisation on hard mode, and while he's a lot better, even now (8 months down the line) he still has issues that he almost certainly wouldn't have had if the previous owners put the legwork in when he was a pup.
I'm really glad you're thinking about it now. Take him to good puppy classes run by qualified trainers - not just the ones where there's uncontrolled puppy chaos. Make sure he sees everything the world has to offer, even if you think it won't be relevant to him (e.g. public transport if you normally drive, urban areas if you live rurally) and make all the experiences positive ones. Have him learn how to settle down.
Your dog will thank you for it, and so will future you. Don't let your DDog end up like mine!
Oh great replies thanks!
Bit worried about the socialisation checklist that lists thunder!
Yep, well, I'm looking forward to it.
Easy to say 8 weeks away.
We started taking him out as soon as we got him - we carried him until his vaccinations had taken effect. We got him used to going in the car straight away. We took him to a puppy class (weekly for 8 weeks) where there was a wide range of dogs and people including children - we don't have children so I was keen that he should learn to interact with them in a safe environment.
As others have said, you need to make a big effort in the first few weeks to expose your puppy to lots of people, places and situations. However, you also need to do things at your puppy's pace and not overload him/her with stimulus. If there are any signs the pup is nervous of something then take a step back and use praise and rewards to encourage him/her. You can do more harm than good if you push the puppy in to uncomfortable situations it isn't ready for. If you take the pup to school for example, you need to manage interactions. I started taking my puppy to training at about 11 weeks, and it really helped. They gave us a list of things to introduce our puppies to, and ways of making all interactions as positive as possible
I have a bike trailer / dog buggy and use a baby sling to take really young fosters out and about with my own girl; visit lots of different places, meet all types of people in various strange clothing / situations (hi viz/ uniforms / using wheelchairs / frames / adults and kids etc etc.) have had to start from scratch with many adult fosters too, lots of ex puppy farm rescues too, and it's far harder doing it when they're older and terrified of everything, so well worth the initial big effort to do young
Didn't do this myself as didn't know about it, and as it happens dog is fine with noise so I'm lucky, but you can buy or download noises likes fireworks and thunder than it's good to let you puppy gradually get used to.
I carried mine around with me, city so plenty of noises. I think if you can give them a wide range they will accept most things, I don't think you have to cover everything on the list. All dogs are different but some things can surprise you.
Eventually discovered that my dog was afraid of the hand carts that road cleaner use - do they still use them? Haven't seen one for ages - anyway, we worked on that and she was fine eventually.
However, I used to live near a racecourse that ran though an area where I walked her, you were separated from the horses, when they were racing, by just low open fencing, something that she was never exposed to during puppy hood. One day we were walking there when I noticed a bunch of horses hurtling down the race course immediately next to us - had no idea it was a race day - she was on the lead so I wasn't too worried, but her reaction amazed me. As they thundered towards us she turned her head to look, clearly registered them with a sort of 'oh look horses' expression, turned back and continued her walk. Totally unimpressed. I've never been to a race course during racing and certainly never been near racing horses like that, I thought it was fantastic. Obviously I'm less sophisticated than my dog.
Agree with Littlehay, the key is not necessarily to just work through a checklist of things but to make sure it is a positive experience being introduced to those things.
Quality is more important than quantity. Don't overload puppy and go a pups pace. It's good to do all sorts of things but definitely think about the most important things for you in the future.
The biggest socialisation point I was worried about getting right was getting him to be not only unfazed by ducks, swans, geese, etc but to learn to look at/focus on me, not them. This was imperative since pretty much every walk route I do from home goes down this one narrow section next to a lake and often swans and geese come out on to the bank, with narrow footpath. In the summer they become particularly aggressive to anything that looks at them as they have their young with them. To safely pass them you and your animal must totally ignore them.
To make sure pup learnt this I carried him down to there a few times. Sometimes I sat on the benches by other parts of the lake, other times I walked up and down the path holding him. I took his dinner with me and every time he looked at me I gave him a piece. It taught him to focus on me really well and first walk out he walked past like a pro, attention fully on me. (He also walked to heel pretty much perfectly from the start, which I think came from these 'attention on me and ignore the feathered creatures over there' sessions we did).
Socialisation also includes things like being handled all over - so it's good to gradually get them used to (or if breeder has done a very good job socialisation wise - keep up) being handled, including messing with ears, looking at teeth, messing with paws, touching/brushing tail etc. These are things people often forget about - they just think well he likes being stroked and let's me pick him up so he's fine being handled but it's so much more than this, that's important.
Definitely do the getting handled bit. We did some of that but probably not enough as he still hates his paws being touched which is fun when I try and do his nails
Oh yes, handling is vital especially the paws. My dog is long haired and I have to clip the hair between her toes quite often. Would be impossible if I couldn't touch her paws.
Took her out from day 1. I don’t vaccinate so not a problem
Visited restaurants, buses trains cars etc
Lots of people giving her attention wearing different things such as hats/helmets
Lots of playing with dogs of all breeds and ages. They really do learn best around other dogs
Think about how you want your dog to be as an adult - do you want it to be pulling to see people/other dogs or ignoring them? For me, I didn’t want a dog that was all over everything else, so socialising for me meant simply existing in an environment calmly and not actually interacting with endless people and things. We did a lot of work keeping focus on me, walking down the road etc. It’s really important that you are more interesting than other dogs so I’m not a fan of puppy parties as the like as I just feel the dogs get completely OTT and I want my dog with me not running off to play constantly.
Totally agree that it’s quality over quantity. Don’t put your puppy in situations that frighten it, let it build confidence at its own pace.
This article is very interesting:
Thank you everyone. I will keep coming back to this thread to re read.
Hi all. I have just stumbled along this thread. I am getting my new pup in 3 weeks. I know that he will not be able to be walked for at least two weeks after I get him as he has to have his vaccinations. He is a cocker spaniel and I am very determined to train him well and give him many stimulating experiences as possible from day one. I have taken two weeks off work to have 100% of my time with him at the start. I am just wondering how I can socialise him if I cant take him out before his vaccinations? Is it just walking and meeting more dogs that he cant do? Can I take him to meet family if they have dogs? How did people socialise their pups with these restrictions?
Take him out in your arms
Take him to friends houses, including if they have vaccinated dogs
Socialise with different surfaces on the floor in the home, everyday household items can be quite unusual for a puppy eg a washing up bowl filled with rustle paper and some treats can build confidence, or plastic bottles with treats inside to investigate
Keep the dog happy and confident and you can’t go far wrong. No experience is better than a bad experience, so never let your pup be frightened for a long period. I think the socialisation phase should really be called the building confidence phase.
Sqidge just don't put him down outside, other than in private gardens, where there are either no dogs or only vaccinated dogs go there. So carry him around.
Also with cocker spaniels it's especially important that you get them used to you messing with their paws, including fiddling about with their pads and between the pads.
I think the socialisation phase should really be called the building confidence phase.
Your dogs will be fine to walk around before they get their vaccinations
They still have their mothers antibodies up to 16 weeks of age and so the risk of catching something is very very small.
I’ve never vaccinated any of my dogs. They’ve all been strong and healthy and didn’t roll over and die simply because I dared to put them on the floor
My pup was running through fields and exploring the day after I brought her home. Never been to vet other than routine check up. Same with previous dogs
Ye I always had mutts and they were out in our fields in Ireland before vaccinations running around amongst badger holes and fox dens and hedgehogs. But my new pup is a full bred cocker spaniel. I am worried he will be a bit more susceptible to things. He will be meeting other dogs, my in-laws' dogs, but I would like to take him out somewhere to let him run around. I figure he will be a ball of energy. I dont know. I will have to see. I might end up playing it safe as I am not brave enough lol.
You don’t want to over-exercise a young puppy. There a lots of games you can play, training you can do etc to tire the dog out. Have a look at the Canine Enrichment page on Facebook - I bet a cocker would love a snuffle mat!
Before vaccinations, I carried my large breed pup in a baby sling. Wesat on street benches watching traffic and people, walked up high streets. He sat in the back of our estate car with the door open in supermarket car parks. (No one can resist a pup). People came round to the house - men, women, people with hats, glasses etc. Dogs came visiting too. Once we could put him down we took him to areas where he could meet dogs, cows sheep etc.
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