PUPPY SOCIALISATION; WHAT IS IT ABOUT?
Early puppy hood represents the stage in a dog’s life when it will be most inclined to explore situations that are new and unfamiliar. It is through exploration that they will find out about the world in which they live, and it is during this time that they will begin to make decisions about what is pleasant and what is not, what is ‘safe’, or what is to be avoided. It is the time when they must learn to interact appropriately with those living creatures with which we require them to spend their lives, in particular other dogs and humans.
Consider that most puppies will move in to their new home at 6-8 weeks of age and may not then meet any other dogs or people until they are fully vaccinated at 10-12 weeks. This is a crucial time in a young puppy’s social development and by 12 weeks of age the inclination to explore and learn is already waning. Young puppies must begin to acquire effective and appropriate social skills early on in order to be able interact and communicate safely and confidently with their own species. As owners, we should endeavour to ensure that our puppies are provided with every opportunity to develop these skills if we wish for them to be able enjoy the company of other dogs.
Early puppy hood provides our best opportunity to integrate dogs into our world and to begin to establish a positive and trusting attitude towards humans. It is the time when the foundations for future learning and behaviour are laid.
Socialisation classes will provide your puppy with opportunities to meet other puppies and people for play and learning, and will offer owners a chance to learn about problem prevention and some basic training.
However, good socialisation should include a broad variety of dogs and people and should be on-going. It will need to be maintained throughout your dog’s life and especially during adolescence.
In order to share in our busy, noisy (!) lives, our dogs must learn to ignore stimuli that have no consequence for them. For your puppy this means learning to ignore all those things that it will be required to live with, or around, but which you wish it to ignore. Everyday sights, sounds and smells such as Hoovers, washing machines, cyclists, the feel of being in car, the noise of passing cars, the sight of a pram or pushchair, umbrellas, banging doors., the list may include animals which your dog is frequently exposed to but does is not required to interact with.
In the surgery we are ideally placed to be able to begin habituating puppies to the sights, sounds and smells of the surgery itself!
It is not possible to habituate our dogs to every kind of stimulus, but time invested now will help to develop a dog that is better equipped for dealing with novel stimuli that may be encountered in adulthood.
Sadly, for many dogs a trip to the vet is only ever associated with something unpleasant, and they quickly learn to become anxious or frightened in the veterinary environment. Attending puppy classes can help lay the foundations for a more positive association with the surgery which can be developed as time goes by.
Our socialisation classes run on Monday evening's over a four week period and they are held at our Oundle surgery on South Road. Each class lasts for about 40 minutes.
They are available to registered clients with puppies who have received their first vaccination.
You will be able to learn some basic training techniques and your puppy will have the opportunity to meet and interact with some other puppies and people.
You can find out about how dogs learn and how you can use this information to help prevent the development of behavioural problems.
The classes are free, with the option to purchase a selection of training items (Clicker, clicker training booklet and Kong toy) available at a reduced price of £10.50.