What is socialisation?

Our Behaviourist Lisa has put together a guide for us on socialising. Whilst its great for Puppies some of the things would also be useful for rescues that have not been socialised too.


Firstly, congratulations on your new addition to your family & welcome to puppyhood!!

We all hear people and see things online about socialisation but what does it really mean?

Some people will say it is all about introducing your new puppy to as many dogs as possible. That is great but that is only a very, very small part of socialisation.

SOCIALISATION is all about introducing your puppy slowly to new situations, places, people. This will build memories and help them develop into well rounded individuals who will live happy & healthy lives. The first 12 months of your puppy’s life and what they learn during this time is important, as it will influence them for the rest of their lives.

Your Socialisation Checklist

  • Always remember to have your reward pouch loaded and ready to reward your puppy. This makes all those shiny new experiences positive and fun
  • Introduce around your home
  • Family and children within the family
  • Teach your children and your puppy mutual respect
  • Other family pets (keep low key to prevent over-stimulation)
  • Book a puppy visit with your vet
  • Book a puppy pamper session with your groomer should your puppy be of a breed type that requires professional grooming
  • Introduce new environments such as parks, cafes, new walks
  • Introduce to new sounds such as low-level traffic
  • Think about noises from seasonal firework displays
  • Think about seasonal activities such as Christmas, Easter, Halloween when people will dress up in sparkling clothes or scary masks & hats

When Should I Start Socialising My Puppy

Our puppies start their ‘socialisation window’ also known as their first fear imprint stage while still with their mother and littermates. This is where a good breeder will start your puppy’s first steps of socialisation. By the time you are collecting your new puppy, the breeder should have introduced them to a variety of people, while allowing them access to certain areas of the home so that the puppies can become used to different smells, sounds and sights. They will have become acclimatised to being handled, so it is important that you maintain this exposure when your puppy comes home with you.

Can I Still Socialise My Puppy Before Their Vaccinations?

YES, but you need to be sensible and safe about it. Keep to the limits of your home and garden when letting your puppy explore their new environment.

Take them out as much as possible but use a puppy sling or carry your puppy. This way your puppy is still experiencing their new world, sights and sounds safely until they are fully vaccinated. Do not allow your un-vaccinated puppy to socialise with other dogs or animals outside of your home as their immune system is still under-developed and they will be more susceptible to picking up germs and viruses.

Your puppy can still socialise with fully vaccinated dogs, but at this stage it is better to socialise them with dogs that you know well and always check with your Vet.

How Can I Socialise My Puppy Before Vaccinations?

Our puppies love to investigate, after all it is how we all learn, human or canine. The difference being we investigate with our hands, our puppies investigate with their mouths. So, with this in mind puppy proof your home. Tidy away any wires that could be chewed through, remove those lovely shoes or any other items that your puppy may see as a wonderful new chew toy.

Allow your puppy to investigate under your watchful eye of course. Expose them to as many different smells, textures and sounds within your home such as noises from the tv, doorbells, alexa devices, vacuums. Getting your puppy used to different textures is great too, such as carpets, rugs, cardboard, plastic, sand, yoga mats, vinyl floorings, wood, grass, artificial grass.

You can also expose them to different (SAFE) materials through enrichments activities, which will also help tire out that busy puppy brain.

Save up cardboard egg boxes and turn them into puzzles by placing a treat in each section, then cover with screwed up paper, just loosely close the lid. Initially you will need to encourage your puppy to investigate and show them what to do. Eventually add in a cue word such as ‘go see’ or ‘go find’, as you say these words encourage your puppy to sniff out that tasty treat.

So save up your toilet roll inners, old cardboard boxes, muffin trays, all these items can be used in the same way as the egg box puzzle.

All these little games/puzzles get our puppies to use their noses and work their brains, while also developing their problem-solving skills.

For more information on enrichment activities, socialisation or force-free positive reinforcement training please feel free to contact us and we can put you in touch with Lisa

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