Just like you, puppies can become frightened when they are in new situations. While you have your grown up to help you feel safe and secure, your puppy doesn’t. This means that it can take them a little longer to be able to make friends with strangers and to feel happy when visiting new places. Getting them used to these experiences is called socialisation.
There are lots of things you can do to help get your puppy used to other people, places and situations. Here are our six top tips for socialising your new puppy.
1. Start as soon as your puppy comes home
You should start socialising your puppy as soon as you bring them home. They’ll be curious and will want to learn about the world, and this makes it the perfect time for them to meet new friends and see new places. Make sure that they have had all of their vaccinations before you take them outside.
2. Take your puppy as many places as possible
You aren’t allowed to take dogs everywhere, but you should try and take your new puppy with you as much as possible. This will give them the chance to experience lots of different things. For example:
- walking on different surfaces like pavement, sand and soil.
- hearing different sounds, such as traffic and children playing.
- experiencing different smells, like woodland or the sea
Build up new experiences gradually so that it doesn’t become too much for your puppy to cope with.
3. Let your puppy be nosey!
Puppies are curious creatures. One of the main ways that they discover the world is through their amazing sense of smell. Not only is your puppy’s sense of smell much better than yours, it can also tell them lots of important information about the people, animals and places that they visit. Their scent memory helps them to remember this information too so that they can recognize them again, just from the way that they smell! When you socialise your puppy, expect to see lots of sniffing going on and be sure not to discourage it.
4. Let your puppy set the pace
All dogs can have very different personalities and some breeds are shy and quiet, while others are louder and more outgoing, even before they are socialised. It’s important not to rush your puppy to accept new people and situations. Build their confidence slowly by letting them take the lead each time they meet someone or go somewhere that they aren’t used to.
5. Cuddles aren’t for everyone
Puppies are incredibly cute and lots of people may want to hug them. However, just like you, puppies don’t necessarily like to be hugged by people they don’t know well. It’s important that you explain this and to ask them to be patient until your puppy feels comfortable with them.
6. Reward good behaviour
Your puppy wants to make you happy. You can let them know that you are pleased with how good they’ve been in new situations by rewarding them. Some people choose to use treats like biscuits, but telling them that they’ve been a good boy/girl and giving them lots of love and attention works just as well. Give them the same reward each time and they will quickly learn what behaviours make you happy.