Understanding Socialisation

What You Need to Know to Raise a Confident Dog

One of the most common things we hear about when we get a new puppy is the importance of “Puppy Socialisation”. During a puppy’s first 3-4 months of age, socialisation and confidence building is the most important training that we should be doing. We can teach obedience to any dog at any age – but we only have a very limited window of opportunity to correctly socialise a puppy.

 

Common Puppy Socialisation Misconceptions

Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions about what socialisation is. Many puppy owners may have been told by well-meaning vets, breeders, friends or family, that their puppy needs to meet as many new dogs and people as possible during their Critical Socialisation Period, which is roughly between 3-16 weeks of age.

By simply throwing our puppy into the firing line, by getting lots of different people to meet them and touch them, or by letting our puppy meet as many random dogs as possible when they are at the park or out walking, we are putting our puppy at risk of one of the following long term behavioural problems:

 

More Than Just Meeting Other Dogs and People

1. The timid puppy becomes increasingly stressed and scared of other dogs and/or people. This can slowly create an adult dog that is fear reactive/aggressive towards strangers or dogs.
OR
2. The more confident puppy becomes ‘over-socialised’, and we end up with a dog that ignores us, and is over-excited, pulling and/or barking when they see other dogs and/or people. This can make walking the dog very difficult and unenjoyable.

Many new puppy owners are not informed that dog and people socialisation is only a SMALL part of their puppy’s socialisation requirements. As trainers, we see too many dogs with behaviour problems that could have been prevented if the owners were taught how to correctly socialise their puppies.

Socialisation done incorrectly can be just as harmful as no socialisation.

The good news is that socialising your puppy correctly is easy, a lot of fun, and great for building a strong relationship with your puppy!
Socialisation and habituation for puppies, involves creating a positive association to everything new that they see, hear and touch in the environment. This means exposure to a lot of different sounds, surfaces, obstacles, machinery, vehicles, people, dogs, and other animals.

Want to learn more about what’s best for your puppy? Go to our Puppy Preschool or Online Services pages.

Get In Contact With Us Today

Eleanor (Ellie) Todd

The Obedience Specialist

Eleanor has been a dog lover and owner for as long as she can remember. Her career in dog training started out with some light volunteer work for Katrina a couple of years ago and she hasn’t looked back since. Having completed her Certificate III in Dog Training & Behaviour in 2018 through National Dog Trainers Federation of Australia, Eleanor has been a part of the Think Canine team since 2019. Her focus is primarily in areas of dog training are obedience, and trick training. She loves working with dogs and teaching them skills (that are both useful for the owners and fun for the dogs as well). She is also a doggy mum to an 8 year old Border Collie-Kelpie named Frodo.

Katrina Diem

Your Local Dog Trainer and Behaviour Consultant

As an Accredited Dog Trainer through the National Dog Trainers Federation of Australia, Katrina brings extensive knowledge of canine learning theory and conducts her training sessions based on scientifically proven methods. The team regularly attend workshops that feature renowned trainers and behaviourists from around Australia and the world – to help keep up to date on the latest training techniques and behaviour modification programs.
Katrina is also a qualified Veterinary Nurse with over 18 years experience in Brisbane and Toowoomba, with a focus on general practice and emergency nursing.