It is so important to expose your new pup to as many situations and scenarios as possible. This doesn’t just mean taking them to new places. You need to be introducing your pup to as many people as possible.
People with beards, people with scarves, tall people, men, women, children…the list is endless. Get your pup used to people coming to the house, ringing the doorbell, putting something through the letterbox. Get pup used to vehicles, cars, trucks, ambulances, skateboards, cyclists. Get pup used to seeing other animals, cats, ducks, squirrels, horses, cows, sheep.
These lists could go on forever. We cannot stress the importance of showing pups as many new things as possible. Nothing fancy has to happen. They just have to see it. Hear it. Be near it. Reward them for remaining calm. Reward them for giving you eye contact. Reward them for sitting. Keep it light and keep it positive.
Socialisations sessions form part of this. It’s relaxed, it’s controlled. Most weeks there are new faces. Different breeds (of both people and dogs…!) Let them play and let them learn!
2. They don’t need to play/be centre of attention!
A lot of people worry that the sessions aren’t right for them because their pup isn’t in the middle, running around with the other pups. This is absolutely fine.
You dog does not have to play automatically with every dog they meet. If they are more comfortable sat by your side, let them. Reward them. Keep them calm. What is important, is that pups are aware of other dogs. That they can be around them without turning to fear or aggression.
For some dogs, they simply need a few sessions to feel more comfortable and come out of their shell. Others never really play with the other dogs, preferring instead to play with the toys with their owners. All of these scenarios are perfectly fine.
3. Always Consider the Comfort of Others
It is our responsibility as dog owners to ensure the comfort of all dogs We have all seen the social media rants of people allowing off lead dogs to approach on lead dogs.
The fact is simple, how your dog is, or behaves is completely irrelevant. If you allow your dog to put another in a bad situation then you are responsible for what happens. How does this translate to the socialisation sessions?
If a dog is particularly nervous, or having time out with their owner, don’t allow your pup to constantly go over to them. If you see that the play is getting too rough, break it up, distract. It is important to look at the group as a whole for the comfort of everyone!
4. When to Step In
There is no hard or fast rule for this. We need to step in when the play is getting too rough or too much for one of the dogs.
We need to step in if our dog is getting far too excited and wound up. However, we CAN step in whenever we want! Stepping in and breaking play doesn’t need to be on an always “need to” basis. These sessions are great opportunities for pups to get used to being allowed to play but also used to coming back to owners when owners need or want them to!
5. Be the Adult
Puppies are puppies, they don’t always know when to stop. If you notice that your dog is making another dog uncomfortable, you need to be the adult and step in. If the play is getting too rough, break it up. If they are a little too overworked, bring them back to you to calm down a little. Take charge!
6. Time Out
Over hyped puppies are a little like over hyped children. Sometimes we just need a little time out for a few minutes to collect ourselves and bring the excitement down just a touch so that we can play nicely!
7. Socialisation and Training
Whilst socialisation sessions are not training sessions, and training sessions are not socialisation sessions, never forget that every opportunity can be a learning opportunity with a young dog.
We want them to come and play and run about but don’t forget to reward good behaviour at any opportunity you get! Been learning watch me in your training sessions?
Reward when they look at you in socialisation sessions! Been learning recall? Reward when they come to you! Need to distract them? Ask them for a quick sit or a paw!
8. The Right Treats
Socialisations sessions with lots of puppies are about one of the most distracting places you will be with your young dog. This means only high reward treats will do.
We often talk about nutrition, but nutrition aside, if you are trying to distract your pup from puppy play with a low grade, unexciting simple dog treat, it is simply not enough. Treats need to be HIGH value (this is different for all dogs but generally real meat is the best way to go in either pieces, dried or pate). Treats need to be small. It’s no good bringing large biscuits that will take pup a couple of minutes to eat.
Another important note is to only treat your dog, and please do not feel obliged to say yes if someone else asks to give your pup a treat. How will you ever get your dog to come back to you if they think anyone will give them a treat??
9. Socialisation is not Exercise
Don’t get us wrong, we 100% hope that our Thursday sessions will ensure a couple of hours of peace for you when you get home! That said, whenever we are doing any form of training or socialisation, puppies need to have already burned off some of that excess energy. If they come to sessions fresh out of being in the house for eight hours, they can get over excited and be hard to calm.
10. Distraction, Distraction, Distraction!
Training and learning is always best when it is kept positive. No puppy is malicious or have bad intent. They simply just don’t know how to handle certain situations. If they start a behaviour we don’t like, it is important for us to redirect them to something else. The sillier you feel, often the better. Grab a toy, use a high pitch voice, encourage your dog to play with you.
Direct your pup to other pups that want to play rather than letting them be overbearing on shy pups. Reward your dogs for any good behaviour and use it as a base to build on when they are out and about meeting new dogs!
Leave questions in the comments!