Puppy Socialisation is not a Puppy Party
There are many trainers and vets up and down the country that offer ‘Puppy Parties’. Some of these are ok. But the majority seem to be far too many pups thrown into a confined area and left to get on with it, while owners sit and chat.
This is not socialisation.
This is carnage. And can be so damaging for your puppy.
While some of the more boisterous pups may love this, it’ll likely be at the expense of the more timid ones. And either way, they’re not learning anything useful. The more extroverted ones will learn that they don’t need to have boundaries around other dogs, and the introverted ones will discover that other dogs are scary. These are things that they’ll carry through into adulthood, and it can be hard to reverse these behaviours.
Puppy Socialisation is not going to the Dog Park
For the same reasons as above, left to their own devices with a bunch of other dogs can be a scary thing, and hard to reverse.
Puppy Socialisation is not letting your pup ‘meet’ other dogs on leads
Generally, it’s best to avoid allowing any dogs to meet while one or more is on a lead. When they are on a lead, the dogs know they have no way of escaping, so if they have any concerns about the other dog, they are more like to be reactive.
Puppy Socialisation is not Group Puppy Classes
While there are some benefits of going to a well-run group puppy class, this does not cover you for Socialisation.
In a good puppy class, you will not get pups running round like the aforementioned Puppy Parties. In a good class, dogs will have barriers between them so that they each have space to connect with their owner and to learn.
You will probably be asked to enter and leave one at a time to keep interactions to a minimum while they are on the lead. There may be some off-lead elements where they can interact, but this will be minimal and operated in a controlled way – not a free for all.
Puppy Socialisation is not ticking things off a checklist
Some trainers will give students a list with a bunch of stuff on it, to expose their pup to. Things like Puppy, Adult dog, Multiple Dogs, Flat-Faced Dog, Men, Women, Children, Crying Baby, etc…
All this does is encourage owners to thrust their pup into as many strange situations as possible by the next training session.
It’s not about the number of new things a pup encounters, it’s about the quality of those experiences, and how they are handled by you to make them positive.
Next week will look at how to achieve this…